Witness Testimony Heard at Preliminary Hearing for Pendleton, Dees and Platt


James William Pendleton, Ashley Ann Platt and Michael John Dees appeared in Seventh District Court on Wednesday before Judge George Harmond for a preliminary hearing. The three have all been charged with murder, aggravated kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping stemming from an incident that occurred on July 29. Pendleton was also charged with aggravated assault.

Carbon County attorney Gene Strate started the hearing with an opening statement describing the events that took place during the incident that occurred at Pendleton’s residence in Price, which resulted in the death of Brian William Swink, 32.

The court heard four hours of witness testimony from over a dozen witnesses detailing the accounts, from their perspective, that led up to the arrest of the trio. According to witnesses Platt, Dees and Pendleton allegedly locked Swink in the basement of the home following a fight between Pendleton and Swink the night before the fire. Further testimony stated that Swink possibly started the fire in the basement in an attempt to gain attention from authorities to aid in his release.

When authorities arrived at the scene, Pendleton informed officers that Swink was in the basement of the home and stated that he was armed with a weapon, which delayed fire crews from extinguishing the fire. Once they were allowed access to the basement, they found Swink deceased. He was unarmed and had multiple injuries, but no burns.

Upon further inspection, they found that there was only one door and no windows leading in or out of the basement. The room was relatively small and unfinished with a dirt floor and dirt walls. There was shelving near the door which held various items such as Christmas decorations, cardboard and other available combustibles. It was determined these items were the origin of the fire.

Filings from the medical examiner’s report listed cause of death was from smoke and soot inhalation.

Attorneys Don Torgerson, David Allred and Robert Oliver have 30 days to file their brief and county attorney Strate will have two weeks after that to respond.

Judge Harmond will rule on Dec. 19 whether the case will be bound over for trial.

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