An American Fork man who spent nearly two years in the Utah State Prison after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter will be allowed to change his plea and stand trial on the charge.
In a 1988 plea agreement, Frank Gene Powell, 22, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison. He admitted running over Glen Candland with a truck in November 1987 after a dispute at a Pleasant Grove home. He was originally charged with second-degree murder.However, in November 1988, Powell asked 4th District Judge Boyd L. Park that he be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. He claimed he did not understand the conditions of his plea and that his sentence was more harsh than he was led to believe.
In March 1989, Park denied Powell's request. Powell appealed to the Utah Court of Appeals, which ruled that he be allowed to change his plea.
The state attorney general's office filed a petition with the Utah Supreme Court asking that the Court of Appeals' ruling be reversed.
In a letter dated Feb. 12, the court denied the state's petition, allowing Powell to change his plea. Powell is currently free on $25,000 bail.
The county attorney's office will now have to request that a trial date be set. Powell could be tried on the original murder charge, which carries a stiffer penalty than the manslaughter charge.
County Attorney Kay Bryson said prosecutors will review the case and decide how to proceed. Bryson said prosecutors may have some difficulty locating witnesses.