Ogden Man Pleads Guilty to Murdering Elderly Tenant

Ogden Man Pleads Guilty to Murdering Elderly Tenant

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Richard Quinton Gunn has pleaded guilty to aggravated murder in the beheading of an elderly tenant.

The plea bargain spared Gunn, 55, a possible death penalty and he now faces life in prison either with or without the possibility of parole.

Gunn was accused in the 1999 slaying of Charles W. Leff, 78, who had been boarding in Gunn's home for about a month.

Police testified that Gunn used a crowbar, butcher knife, handsaw, fireplace poker, 12-inch bolt, straightedge razor, a large salad fork, an ax, walking canes and a pool cue in attacking the victim.

Gunn told police some of the injuries to Leff were meant to take "his evil powers."

Gunn said he believed Leff was possessed demonically, and that possibly he had the same problem himself.

After Monday's plea session before 2nd District Judge Parley Baldwin, Gunn's public defenders talked about his mental health problems.

They include post traumatic stress disorder from a troubled youth, cognitive problems that affect his perception of reality and the effects of methamphetamine, attorney John Caine said.

Gunn had been found competent to stand trial.

Five mental health professionals are expected to testify at Gunn's sentencing hearing to be scheduled for next month, including two hired by the defense, the two who performed the competency exams and one hired by the prosecution.

The case has dragged on for more than three years as Gunn quarreled with his lawyers, refused psychological testing and did his own jailhouse lawyering.

Gunn finally agreed to the plea bargain over the weekend, Caine said.

"He has come to trust me more the last month or so," he said. "As we prepared for trial, he's come to see that he faced a real high likelihood of getting the death penalty.

"He is not a stupid man. He sees the reality of his situation," Caine said.

A 12-member jury is expected to be selected by Thursday for the penalty phase, which is expected in late March.

Instead of a unanimous vote, only 10 members need opt for life without parole, Caine said, while a 9-3 vote would give Gunn life with possible parole.

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

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