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Ex-Senate Majority Leader Killpack pleads guilty to DUI

Published January 20, 2011 8:51 am

Courts • Killpack will do community service instead of jail time and pay a $1,350 fine.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Former Utah Senate Majority Leader Sheldon Killpack pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving under the influence of alcohol.

After fighting the charges for more than a year, Killpack quickly resolved the case with his plea to the class B misdemeanor and a request for immediate sentencing.

Salt Lake County Justice Court Judge Shauna Graves-Robertson imposed the standard punishment for a first-time DUI offender.

The judge sentenced Killpack to 180 days in jail, but suspended all but two days of jail time and said Killpack could perform 48 hours of community service instead.

As part of a one-year probation, she also ordered Killpack to pay a $1,350 fine, take a 16-hour class for DUI offenders and attend a victim-impact panel.

Killpack was charged with Class B misdemeanor driving under the influence and class C misdemeanor failure to signal. The second charge was dismissed Wednesday in exchange for Killpack's plea to the DUI count.

Asked what prompted Wednesday's plea deal, defense attorney Ed Brass said, "Some credit goes to the D.A. and the new administration. They treated him fairly ... it's a fair resolution."

Brass declined to say what newly elected Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill had offered that former D.A. Lohra Miller did not.

Gill, who was sworn in last month, later told The Tribune that he had a "very productive conversation" with Brass on Tuesday.

"My goal is not to mistreat or inappropriately treat anyone who comes before the law," said Gill, who added that Killpack "accepted responsibility for his behavior and that goes a long ways toward resolving this issue."

Killpack, who left the court smiling and walking briskly, declined to speak to reporters.

Brass continues to maintain that Killpack was unfairly pulled over prior to his arrest in January 2010, but said that Killpack "needed to have this behind him, and it's behind him."

A Utah Highway Patrol trooper pulled over Killpack just after midnight Jan. 15, 2010, as he left the bar Liquid Joe's, located at 1249 E. 3300 South. Killpack performed poorly on field sobriety tests and refused to take a breath test.

Blood tests showed his blood-alcohol level was 0.11, which is above the legal driving limit of 0.08. Killpack resigned his post as Senate majority leader the day after his arrest.

In September, Killpack abandoned his quest to overturn the state's suspension of his driver license. The 18-month suspension was the automatic result of Killpack's refusal to take a Breathalyzer test after he stopped.

Also in September, Graves-Robertson refused to throw out the traffic stop that led to Killpack's arrest.

Defense attorney Ed Brass had argued the UHP trooper had no legal basis to pull Killpack over because his client had broken no traffic laws.

But prosecutor Thomas LoPresto argued that the tire on Killpack's Toyota Tundra pickup hit the center lane dividing line three times and that was enough justification for the trooper to make the stop since state law requires drivers to stay "entirely within a single lane."

While Brass argued the line was neutral turf between the two lanes of travel, LoPresto argued that if both cars were allowed to travel on or near the line they would collide.

"The only common sense understanding is that driving on top of the lane line is not entirely within a single lane," LoPresto said.

Graves-Robertson agreed the trooper had a reasonable basis to stop Killpack's truck.

Brass on Wednesday told reporters that Killpack has had "a really positive attitude" and had handled the stresses of being charged with a crime well.

"He hasn't shied away from any of this stuff," Brass said. "It's pretty tough to be dragged through the mud the way he has the last year."

shunt@sltrib.com