clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

LET WORTHINGTON PLEA STAND, ATTORNEYS SAY

State attorneys are urging a 3rd District judge to rule against Richard Worthington's request to withdraw his guilty plea to charges stemming from last year's Alta View Hospital siege.

"Richard Worthington should not be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea because he did not make his withdrawal request within the time allowed by statute," the state's attorneys, B. Kent Morgan and Greg G. Skordas, wrote.Utah law gives a defendant 30 days to withdraw a guilty plea. Worthington's withdrawal comes about five months after he entered his plea of guilty to murder, aggravated burglary and eight counts of aggravated kidnapping.

Worthington was sentenced to a minimum of 35 years in the Utah State Prison by 3rd District Judge Timothy Hanson. Hanson will rule whether or not Worthington's plea will stand Tuesday at 10 a.m.

"This was the most thorough guilty plea I've ever sat through," Skordas said. "He (Hanson) went through things over and over again."

Worthington's lawyers argue that he should be able to withdraw his guilty plea because he wasn't mentally competent to enter into a plea agreement.

"There has never been a valid determination of defendant's competency to plead guilty, and the court cannot uphold a guilty plea where competency has been a valid issue, absent a proper finding of competency," attorneys James Haskins and Paul Gotay wrote.

They argue that failure to determine Worthington's competence denies him due process to a fair trial. They refer to a motion filed by his former attorneys that informs the court Worthington intended to rely on a defense of diminished mental capacity or insanity.

"Dr. (Breck) LeBegue describes defendant's mental illness as one which causes defects in judgment with mood swings that are high or too low," Haskins and Gotay wrote. Dr. LeBegue was listed as the defense's witness to substantiate the diminished capacity defense.

The state argues if Worthington desired a competency hearing, he or his counsel should have filed a petition for one. "Mr. Worthington's notice shows only his intent to rely on a defense of diminished mental capacity at trial. It does not request a hearing on his competency to stand trial," Skordas and Morgan wrote.

Worthington's attorneys asked the court not to repeat the mistake made in the Ronald Lafferty case, where the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered he be given a new trial because of questions related to competency.