A 43-year-old man who took a hostage at the FBI’s downtown Salt Lake City office building last year pleaded guilty but mentally ill to a kidnapping charge on Monday.
Robert Joseph Hibbard will be sentenced on Oct. 20 by 3rd District Judge Robin Reese. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
Though originally charged with a first-degree felony kidnapping, the penalty was reduced to a second-degree felony Monday as part of Hibbard’s plea agreement with prosecutors.
Hibbard, who allegedly initiated the incident with the FBI because he wanted to speak to a forensic psychiatrist about the death of his ex-wife and the criminal charges against her new husband, was ordered to stand trial last year.
In conversations with both The Salt Lake Tribune and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, Hibbard accused his ex-wife’s new husband of her murder.
His ex-wife, Rashell Langford, 33, died in September 2011 when she shot herself while taking a concoction of artificial drugs known as "bath salts" and drinking alcohol with her new husband, Shawn Robert Langford, then 41.
Langford was charged with misdemeanor negligent homicide, pleaded guilty to an alternate misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment for backing out of a suicide pact the couple made and was sentenced to 180 days in jail.
Hibbard felt this was unjust and that Shawn Langford should have been charged with murder.
According to court documents Hibbard took matters into his own hands on Sept. 17, 2012, when he entered the 6th floor of the FBI building, grabbed a 61-year-old man and said he needed a forensic psychiatrist and that the FBI had one.
He said he had a gun, put an object to the victim’s back and stated, "This is a hostage situation," the documents state.
Hibbard forced the man into an elevator and pushed the button for the 12th floor, where the FBI offices are. When they arrived, Hibbard loosened his grip and handed the man a knife, which he had been holding to his back, according to charges.
An FBI agent took Hibbard into custody.
Hibbard has a criminal record beginning in 1991 that includes misdemeanor convictions for possession of a controlled substance, retail theft, simple assault and forcible sexual abuse, according to Utah court records.
As recently as 2010, Hibbard was on supervised probation with the Utah Department of Corrections for out-of-state convictions of sexual battery and attempted theft by receiving stolen property.
According to court documents, 3rd District Judge Robin Reese accepted Hibbard’s plea Monday and ordered a mental health report be prepared before the man is sentenced.
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