Richard L Worthington Guilty Plea Article, March 18, 1992
Worthington pleads guilty to escape death penalty SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -The -The man accused of killing a nurse and holding eight hostages during a standoff in a hospital maternity wing has pleaded guilty to reduced charges. In a plea agreement with prosecutors, prosecutors, Richard L. Worthington, Worthington, 40, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of felony murder, eight counts of aggravated kidnapping and an aggravated burglary charge. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to dismissal of a capital murder charge for which Worthington Worthington could have received the death penalty. Jury selection in the case had been scheduled to begin March 24. Third District Judge Timothy Hanson scheduled sentencing March 26. Worthington theoretically could face up to 10 sentences of life imprisonment. Salt Lake County Attorney David Yocom said he would ask for a 30-year 30-year 30-year sentence for the aggravated kidnapping kidnapping charges and for a consecutive consecutive life sentence for the slaying slaying of nurse Karla Roth. "I think the consensus of everyone is that death would not be a likely sentence in this case," Yocom said. "I think justice justice is served anytime you can settle a case with very serious charges." In court, Worthington said he was not entirely happy with the wording of some of the charges, but added, "I'm not sure I'll ever be happy." Then he broke into tears. Defense attorney Andrew Val-dez Val-dez Val-dez said he has not decided what sentence to ask for Worthington. He said Worthington is preparing preparing a statement of responsibility and remorse to read at the sentencing. He said the only debatable issue in the case was whether the slaying was intentional. Yocom said the victims and relatives would have an opportunity opportunity to write letters to the judge prior to sentencing. The 18-hour 18-hour 18-hour standoff at Alta View Hospital in suburban Sandy began early Sept. 21 when Worthington stormed the facility's facility's Women's Health Center armed with two guns and explosives. Worthington shot Roth in the hospital's parking lot and holed up in the women's center, threatening to detonate a dynamite dynamite bomb that authorities said could have leveled half a city block. A baby was born during the ordeal, which ended when Worthington released the hostages hostages and gave up. Detectives said Worthington, a landscaper, had gone to the hospital hospital looking for Dr. Glade Curtis, Curtis, an obstetrician who had performed performed a tubal ligation on Worthington's wife, Karen, two years before without his permission. permission. The operation prevents pregnancy. The Worthingtons have eight children and two that died shortly after birth. The judge said the events of last September could not be undone. "I cannot bring Karla Roth back. Neither can you. It's tragic but it's done. It's occurred," Hanson told Worthington. "It's a serious crime that deserves a serious punishment." After his arrest, Worthington twice attempted to commit suicide suicide in the Salt Lake County Jail but was not seriously injured. Worthington's family, including including Karen Worthington, now divorced, divorced, was present in the packed courtroom. Nurse Margie Wyler, who helped hostage Christian Downey Downey give birth to a daughter during the standoff, said, "The thought of a trial was real stressful. stressful. I'm real pleased. "I don't think we would have got the death penalty anyway," she said. "We've probably gotten gotten about as good as we can get." Wyler said the case has caused her to re-examine re-examine re-examine her views about about capital punishment. "I used to think I believed in the death penalty," she said. "But until you're really faced with something like this, how could you make a rational decision decision on something like this?"