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Man Charged in Police Shooting Commits Suicide

Man Charged in Police Shooting Commits Suicide

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HEBER, Utah (AP) -- The fiance of a woman shot and killed by police last month, charged with attempted aggravated murder and attempted aggravated kidnapping in the case, has committed suicide.

David Gayler, 31, of Hailey, Idaho, hanged himself with a bedsheet in his Wasatch County jail cell. His cellmate discovered him around 3 p.m. Monday. Authorities found a 22-page letter Gayler had written about his love for his deceased would-be bride and her two young children.

Jail staff and ambulance personnel resuscitated him. He was first taken to the Wasatch County Medical Center, then flown to Salt Lake City's University Hospital, according to the Wasatch County Sheriff's office.

Gayler's attorney, Todd Utzinger, said Wednesday that Gayler died at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday after being taken off life support.

Natalie Turner, also of Hailey, died after being shot by law enforcement officers when she pointed a gun at them on Aug. 8.

Police officers were responding to a call of shots fired in Kamas at the home of John Pochynok, Turner's ex-husband.

Turner, a former South Ogden resident, was the executive director of the Hailey Chamber of Commerce and had been involved in a bitter three-year custody battle with Pochynok over their two young children.

Police, called by Pochynok's neighbors, pulled the car over several miles from Park City and ordered Turner out of the car. Authorities said Turner appeared to struggle with Pochynok and two shots were fired. She emerged wounded from the car with the gun and pointed it at police officers, telling them her life was over.

Two officers fired, killing her.

Gayler was charged last week with attempted murder in Pochynok's shooting. Pochynok is recovering from bullet wounds to the chest.

Just days before the shootings, a judge had ordered Turner to move closer to Pochynok, threatening to jail her and to give Pochynok custody of the two children.

Gayler was a registered sex offender in Idaho. He was convicted in 1995 in Shasta County, Calif., on a felony charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14.

David Turner, Natalie's father, said Tuesday he feared Gayler might be suicidal and had worried there should be a watch at the jail.

"This kid is very fragile," said Turner, who visited Gayler at the jail many times. "I've been worried about him since day one."

Utzinger said he did not know whether Wasatch County jailers had Gayler on suicide watch. A call to the sheriff's department spokesman Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned.

David Turner, who knew of Gayler's sex offender status, called Gayler "very genuine and very sweet." He said he will hold the man's 22-page letter for his daughter's two children until they are older.

Utzinger said he never had an opportunity to talk with his client in private, but had scheduled meetings to prepare a defense this week.

During their brief conversations, including Friday's hearing on the murder charges, Utzinger said Gayler's primary concern was his family.

"I think he felt in the long run this would be less burdensome for the family," he said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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