Man's Request to Withdraw Guilty Plea Denied

Man's Request to Withdraw Guilty Plea Denied

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah Court of Appeals on Thursday denied an Ogden man's request to withdraw his guilty plea in the beating death of a drinking buddy.

Gordon Leon Walls, 31, pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder in the June 2001 killing of Craig Tillet, 53, and was sentenced to five years to life in prison.

The court ruled that Walls' claim he was mislead about the agreement hadn't be properly presented for appeal.

Walls misunderstood prosecutors when they said if he accepted the plea deal, they would recommend to the parole board he only serve 12 years in prison on the sentence, said his new attorney, Randall W. Richards.

"Whether he clearly understood that, I didn't think he did, but the court of appeals disagreed," Richards said.

His client thought that would carry more weight that it probably does, Richards said.

Richards had not talked to his client Thursday and wasn't aware if Walls intended to appeal to the Utah Supreme Court.

The attorney for the state, Karen Klucznik, didn't immediately return a call made by The Associated Press on Thursday.

The court also ruled that Walls also unsuccessfully argued that he was mentally ill when he entered the plea.

The appeals court decision notes three mental evaluations that were conducted for Wall, one of which addressed his competency when he pleaded guilty.

"Based in large part on these evaluations, the trial court found that defendant was malingering and the guilty plea was knowingly and voluntarily entered," wrote Appeals Court Judge Pamela Greenwood.

An argument between Walls and Tillet ensued the night of June 11, 2001 at Tillet's apartment, where the two men had been drinking heavily.

Police say Walls began beating and kicking Tillet about the head until he was unconscious. He died the next day.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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