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No bail for Utah man accused of shooting father-in-law in Ogden church

Published July 22, 2013 12:30 pm

Courts • Defense attorney raises mental competency concerns.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ogden • Charles Richard Jennings Jr. allegedly had a motive when he walked into St. James the Just Catholic Church on June 16 and shot his father-in-law in the head: Respect.

On Monday, Deputy Weber County Attorney Dean Saunders told 2nd District Judge Michael Lyons that Jennings told authorities that he shot and wounded 66-year-old James Evans because he "felt disrespected."

Saunders then asked Lyons to hold Jennings in the Weber County Jail without bail, claiming Jennings was a danger to the community and might try to find Evans, who survived the shooting, and "complete the act."

Defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis opposed the no-bail hold, telling Lyons that the existing $105,000 bail was already so high that Jennings couldn't make bail and that any increase would be "symbolic."

But Lyons sided with the state and ordered the man held without bail.

Just before noon on June 16, Jennings allegedly walked into the Catholic church, located at 495 N. Harrison Blvd., where he pulled out a gun and fired one shot, which struck Evans' right ear and exited through his cheek.

Evans did not suffer brain damage in the shooting, and though his jaw will need to be reconstructed, he is expected to recover.

Jennings is charged with one count of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated burglary and two counts of aggravated robbery, all first-degree felonies, along with possession or use of firearm by a restricted person, a second-degree felony.

After the shooting, Jennings ran from the church into a nearby neighborhood and allegedly stole a truck from a stranger at gunpoint. He was captured several hours later walking along Interstate 84 in Box Elder County after the truck ran out of gas as he apparently attempted to flee to Idaho.

Also on Monday, Bouwhuis asked for a competency review for Jennings. He told the judge that he is concerned after learning that Jennings told detectives after the shooting that he was hypnotized. Bouwhuis also noted that Jennings was in an accident a decade ago, which caused brain damage and may have affected his competency.

A competency review hearing was set for Sept. 9.

Jennings' criminal history is limited to lower-level felonies and a misdemeanor, including theft and drug possession. In 2004, Jennings was convicted of theft and trying to tamper with a witness or juror, for which he served about a year in prison, according to Steve Gehrke, Utah Department of Corrections spokesman.

As a convicted felon, Jennings was not allowed to have a firearm.

Several days after the shooting, the Rev. Erik Richtsteig held a liturgy of reparation to cleanse the church of the evil that happened there, per Catholic tradition.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller