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GAYS WANT YOUNG REMOVED FROM BENCH

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Members of Utah's gay community are hoping that a judge's decision to reduce the sentence of a Nevadan who shot and killed a homosexual man will be counted among his last.

Gay and Lesbian Utah Democrats filed a complaint Saturday with the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission against 3rd District Judge David Young. The document calls for the "strongest-possible penalty" against Young, including his removal from office.The formal outcry comes days after Young ordered David Thacker to serve a zero-to-five year sentence with a one-year enhancement for shooting Douglas Koehler last August in a ParkWest parking lot.

Prosecutors originally charged Thacker, 26, with first-degree murder - claiming the slaying was a blatant hate crime. The Unionville, Nev., man later pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter.

During Monday's sentencing hearing, Young said the maximum prison term of 15 years for the reduced charge was "too high," adding "I honestly believe in my own mind that Mr. Thacker is not likely to reoffend."

Saturday, a small group gathered at the Salt Lake County Government Offices to review the complaint, enlist public unity and demand action.

"Our belief is that Judge Young has discredited the Utah judicial system," said GLUD chairman Michael Aaron. "Judges are trusted to reflect the values of the communities in which they serve. Judge Young has not only failed to do that, but has become an embarrassment for many Utahns."

The complaint claims Young ignored the hate-crime circumstances surrounding Koehler's death along with prison sentence recommendations from various state corrections officials.

Participants also called for increased awareness of other local judges' actions. Young has been targeted recently by the National Organization for Women for "biased decisions" involving ethnic minorities and women.

State law prevents Young from commenting on cases over which he presides.

The complaint was also sent to the American Bar Association, Utah Administrator of the Courts, Utah Bar Association, Gov. Mike Leavitt and the Utah Judicial Council.