WEST JORDAN — A Sandy man who faced a hung jury on allegations he tried to kill a man fleeing from his home pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge.
Larry Kent Graff, 55, pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, down from a charge of attempted murder, a first-degree felony.
Prosecutors had initially charged Graff with trying to kill Michael Grimsley, who had been in Graff's home with his girlfriend, 26-year-old Candice Melo, on Dec. 18, 2014. A jury in September 2016 convicted Graff of a lesser charge of manslaughter rather than murder in Melo's death, but was hung on whether he tried to kill Grimsley.
Until the case was resolved in Monday's plea deal, it had been on its way to a second trial.
Graff told police he had shot Melo, who had been staying at his Sandy home, 343 E. Gary Ave. (9560 South), as she ran from the house with a laptop computer he claimed she was stealing. Melo and Graff's girlfriend had been arguing over what Melo owed for her weeklong stay as she prepared to leave, according to prosecutors.
Defense attorney Greg Skordas argued during the trial that Graff acknowledged he was wrong to shoot Melo and that he accepted responsibility for doing so.
However, Skordas claimed Graff was not ultimately responsible for Melo's death, saying she ultimately died from a lack of medical attention after police, who believed she was already dead ,left her lying in Graff's driveway for 30 minutes. Melo was shot in her head, hip and lower back, according to the charges.
After shooting Melo, prosecutors said Graff pointed his gun at Grimsley and fired once.
While a third person also fled the house with Melo and Grimsley, the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office said when charges were filed that there wasn't enough evidence to charge Graff with a second count of attempted murder.
Prior to the shooting, Graff's house had been the target of a drug investigation, according to court documents.
Graff is currently serving a prison sentence of one to 15 years for Melo's death. He is due to be sentenced March 28 for the aggravated assault charge.