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For week ended November 14, 1999 Posted 14 Nov 1999

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Will LDS politician enter plea today? (Gardner ready to agree to a plea?)

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Will LDS politician enter plea today? (Gardner ready to agree to a plea?)
Deseret News 11Nov99 D2
By Edward L. Carter: Deseret News staff writer

PROVO, UTAH -- Ahead of a trial scheduled for today, Utah County Commissioner David J. Gardner may cut a plea bargain. Gardner's attorney has been intently discussing with prosecutors a plea for the LDS Church member, who is facing drunk driving charges. The plea would save both Gardner and the County a potentially embarrassing trial.

Gardner has long claimed innocence in the March 22nd incident. Gardner's car swerved into a field, and sparks from the fire started a brush fire, which he then tried to stomp out, causing burns on his feet. At that time Utah Highway Patrol specialists administered sobriety tests, which Gardner failed. The results of blood and urine tests also administered at the time have not been released. Gardner claims that he was given a drink of something that tasted like vodka from a hitchiker that he picked up.

The County political establishment has adopted a wait-and-see attitude toward the trial. While some critics attacked Gardner at a Republican central committee meeting this past summer, others have taken a low-key approach, "As Republicans we believe in the due process of law," says county party chairman Stan Lockhart. "It's important to see what happens in the courts with Commissioner Gardner. It's premature to say anything before the courts make their decision."

And even the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving is being cautious. "We're just waiting to see what happens," said Mary Phillips, vice president of the group's Salt Lake City chapter. "Our intent is getting people held responsible."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information