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Man accused in Ogden church shooting pleads guilty

Published November 12, 2013 11:58 am

Charles Jennings Jr. admitted that he shot his father-in-law, pleads mentally ill.
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The man accused of shooting his father-in-law in the head during a Father's Day church service has pleaded guilty — but mentally ill — to charges.

Charles Richard Jennings Jr., 35, was originally charged in Ogden's 2nd District Court with attempted murder, two counts of aggravated burglary and two counts of aggravated robbery and possession or use of a firearms by a restricted person.

Last Thursday, Jennings accepted a plea deal and pleaded guilty, but mentally ill, to attempted murder and two counts of aggravated burglary — all first-degree felonies — along with a misdemeanor possession of firearms charge. Two counts of aggravated robbery were dismissed.

Jennings faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 23.

According to charging documents, Jennings walked into Ogden's St. James the Just Catholic Church, 495 N. Harrison Blvd., just before noon on June 16 and pulled out a gun.

He fired only one shot, hitting his father-in-law in the head.

The bullet did not kill James Evans, 66. It entered his right ear and exited through his cheek, police said, causing neither death nor brain damage.

Jennings ran from the church into a nearby neighborhood, where he allegedly stole a truck from a resident at gunpoint, documents state.

He was found several hours later walking along Interstate 84 in Box Elder County after the truck had run out of gas. Officers say he was trying to flee to Idaho.

In September, Jennings was deemed competent to stand trial on the charges — despite concerns from his defense attorney that he was acting under the influence of drugs or mental health issues at the time of the shooting.

His attorney, Michael Bouwhuis, said in September that although his client is able to comprehend what is happening in his case, there still remained questions about his competency and his ability to discern right from wrong at the time of the shooting.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller