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Surprise guilty plea from Christmas stabbing defendant

The sixth defendant connected to the Christmas Day 2011 stabbing death of 20-year-old Buck Garner has pleaded guilty.

18-year-old Brent Pongyan is charged with principal to aggravated battery. He appeared in Bonneville County court on Monday for a pre-trial conference. But, his attorney made a surprise announcement, Pongyan would reverse his not-guilty plea and forego a trial by jury. Pongyan was scheduled for trial next week.

Pongyan is now the sixth defendant in the case to enter a guilty plea.

19-year-old Joseph Chavez, who’s charged with second degree murder for the stabbing death of Garner, is scheduled for trial in July.

Pongyan admitted on Monday to grabbing Garner while Chavez stabbed him. He said he didn’t know it was going to happen.

Brenda Hall is the mother of Andrew Hall and said the guilty plea was a very pleasant surprise. Witnesses have said Andrew Hall was the intended victim of the attack that killed Garner.

“When they take responsibility and tell the truth, for us it makes it easier to get to forgiving, and know that they’re just taking responsibility,” Brenda Hall said.

Pongyan’s charge carries a maximum 15-year sentence and up to a $50,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for August 6.

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