LOGAN — A man who admitted he tried to threaten a Hispanic family after their truck broke down and blocked the route to a Utah campground — a confrontation widely shared online — was ordered Monday to serve 10 days in jail.
Wyatt Dee Pack, 23, who is white, pleaded guilty in February to reduced charges of attempted riot and theft by extortion, class A misdemeanors; plus attempting to threaten or use a dangerous weapon in a fight, a class B misdemeanor. Prosecutors say the victims in the case, Jose Caballero and his family, approved the plea deal.
First District Judge Angela Fonnesbeck admonished Pack for his conduct over Memorial Day weekend two years ago, when police said he swung at Caballero and threatened his family in Blacksmith Fork Canyon.
“The reality is, this type of behavior is not tolerated or welcome in our communities. You should be putting yourself in a position where you serve as an example and a role model, not someone who tears us down,” Fonnesbeck told Pack. “I think we have enough of that going on in the world, and we don’t need one more person to contribute to that type of attitude or behavior.”
Court documents supporting Pack’s guilty pleas say he displayed a weapon while yelling in a threatening manner and convinced the family to give him money to transport their vehicle, even though they didn’t want his help.
In exchange for Pack’s guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed to recommend no more than 10 days in jail and to drop remaining misdemeanor charges of extortion, threat of violence and two counts of assault. They filed the charges in July 2018, when video of Pack berating the Caballero family circulated on social media and garnered about 350,000 views.
Deputy Cache County attorney Griffin Hazard said Pack and another man in his group that day, Cory Brian Durney, of Tremonton, were “some of the primary instigators.” When Durney drove his own vehicle into Caballero’s, Hazard said, Caballero narrowly avoided being hit.
Durney pleaded guilty earlier this year to reduced charges of attempted riot and attempted aggravated assault, both class A misdemeanors. Fonnesbeck sentenced him Monday to also serve 10 days in jail.
Prosecutors said Caballero explained he had been trying to get help and fix the truck, but Pack and others he was with yelled and threatened Caballero. At one point, Pack began “screaming and asking if Jose was deaf. He then walked up to Jose and grabbed him by his left ear and tried to hit him, but Jose ducked down,” court documents said.
Caballero testified at a preliminary hearing that Pack’s hand rested on a gun at his hip as he threatened to burn the family’s belongings and use his gun if they didn’t move their things.
Cabellero told his family to start gathering their packs, jackets and food and to walk down the canyon road. He later told investigators he was “very scared for his family,” during the encounter, and his wife said she became convinced the group would shoot and kill her husband and eldest son after blocking them in, prosecutors said.
During the encounter, Pack and the group with him yelled Spanish words, such as “vamanos,” at the family, the charges state.
Others in Pack’s group resolved misdemeanor criminal charges stemming from the confrontation by entering pleas in abeyance, meaning their cases can be dismissed once they complete certain requirements imposed by a judge. They are Rikki Jane Durney, of Tremonton; Samara Lee Nielsen of Harrisville; and Braxton Jade Haderlie, of North Ogden.
In Monday’s hearing held over videoconference, Pack was seen standing next to his attorney in a green plaid shirt.
“I’ve learned a very valuable lesson,” Pack said. “Definitely something that I will not forget.”
His defense attorney Matthew Bartlett emphasized it has been more than two years since the incident and noted his client now lives out of state in Tetonia, Idaho.
Fonnesbeck said she understood that Pack lost his job as a mechanic for Weber County following the incident that circulated in news media and online. She said she doesn’t think “anyone should experience the type of punishment that you inflicted on a member of our community, but punishment is sometimes warranted.”
The judge also imposed a $1,500 fine, ordering Pack to complete cultural sensitivity training and take an anger management class.
Fonnesbeck suspended yearlong jail sentences on each class A misdemeanor charge and a six-month charge for the class B misdemeanor, meaning they won’t take effect if Pack adheres to the terms of his probation.