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Sandy firebombing suspect pleads guilty to lesser charge

Adam D. Gibbons avoided a death penalty trial Wednesday by pleading guilty in 3rd District Court to a lesser charge of manslaughter in a firebombing two years ago of a Sandy home.

Gibbons, 20, Salt Lake City, and co-defendant Douglas L. Birkibine, 34, Boise, were both charged with capital murder in the Aug. 17, 1995, firebomb and handgun attack that killed Philip Boykin, 19, of California.In a preliminary hearing, witnesses testified that Birkibine told them he'd been paid $10,000 by Gibbons to obtain C-4 explosive and build the two bombs used in the attack.

Birkibine testified he bombed a car outside the house and Gibbons threw another bomb through a window after firing a number of shots into the house, killing Boykin.

But witnesses testified Birkibine told them he'd thrown the bomb into the home and also fired the shots. Boykin was shot once in the head, according to investigators. A woman in the house, Rene Briddle, was injured but survived.

Police said the attack was an apparent retaliation for an earlier robbery by Boykin of Gibbons' brother.

Birkibine in April pleaded guilty to murder, a first-degree felony, and attempted murder, a second-degree felony, in a plea bargain and agreed to testify against Gibbons.

Birkibine faces up to life in prison on his plea, and Gibbons faces up to 15 years on the second-degree felony count. Both will be sentenced Nov. 3.