Prosecutors Will Help Cody Nielsen Change Guilty Plea

Prosecutors Will Help Cody Nielsen Change Guilty Plea

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Cache County prosecutors have offered to help Cody Lynn Nielsen withdraw his guilty plea to aggravated murder in the disappearance and slaying of a 15-year-old Hyrum girl.

Nielsen's attorneys oppose the withdrawal of the plea, which would once again expose him to a potential death penalty.

Arguments on the motion are set for Monday before 1st District Judge Clint Judkins.

Three weeks ago, Nielsen's attorneys, Shannon Demler and David Perry, persuaded Nielsen to accept a plea bargain.

But Nielsen, 30, told the judge last week that he had been forced against his will into making the guilty plea. The judge said he would not acknowledge any request to withdraw it that was not submitted by Nielsen's attorneys.

Nielsen complained his attorneys were refusing to help him. Demler told the judge he did not believe withdrawal of the plea was in Nielsen's best interest.

But Wednesday, special prosecutor Scott Wyatt offered to make the request himself. He said he would file the paperwork by Friday.

Nielsen was charged in the death of Trisha Autry, who disappeared from her home in Hyrum on June 24, 2000. Her jawbone, bra and shoes were unearthed May 15 at a Millville coyote research facility where Nielsen had been a maintenance worker.

Utah Medical Examiner Todd Grey said there were many hundreds of fragments of what appeared to be burned bones, most so small he could not tell which body part they belonged to. The manager at the research facility said Nielsen operated a backhoe at the facility on Oct. 11, 2000, during a massive fire.

Nielsen had denied any involvement in the girl's disappearance. When he pleaded guilty, he refused to answer questions about whether he killed Autry.

Nielsen is serving a sentence of up to five years in prison for unlawful sexual activity with a minor, and has other previous convictions.

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

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