FARMINGTON -- A man suspected of pulling a gun on Walmart employees said Monday he should be able to withdraw his guilty pleas because he is unable to read.
Trent Allen Longton, 25, took the witness stand during an evidentiary hearing in 2nd District Court before Judge John R. Morris.
Longton had entered guilty pleas to robbery, a second-degree felony, and unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon, a class A misdemeanor, following a Jan. 13 incident at a Walmart in Layton. He was scheduled to be sentenced on March 28, but then told the court he wanted to withdraw his pleas.
Morris said he will wait for the attorneys to file briefs and then hear oral arguments Aug. 15 before he makes a decision.
Longton said Monday he told his public defender, Mark Arrington, on Feb. 7, that he had completed ninth grade and could read.
He didn't want Arrington, or other defendants who were standing next to him in the holding cell waiting for their court hearings, to know that he had completed only fifth grade.
"I'm ashamed of it," Longton said. "It's nothing to be proud of."
Longton said his mother pulled him out of school at the end of his fifth-grade year and had planned to home-school him.
He also told Arrington and Morris on Feb. 7 that he had read the "statement in advance of a plea" and understood it, when he actually had not read it and did not understand it.
Longton was on probation when he walked into the store in January. Asset protection associates from the store said they saw him remove a laptop computer from its box and stuff it under his shirt and down his pants.
When store employees had him in the office, he reportedly pulled a gun on the Walmart employees and four of them disarmed him.
The four were then fired by Walmart the following week for violating store policy by not disengaging in the altercation when a weapon was shown.
Longton, who is now being represented by Emily Swenson, said Monday after he had entered the guilty pleas in February, family members and his friends in jail told him he was stupid.
Longton then got another inmate in the jail to help him write a letter to the judge to ask to withdraw his guilty pleas.
Arrington testified in Monday's hearing that if he had known Longton had only a fifth-grade education, he would have gone over the plea statement "word for word."
Deputy Davis County Attorney Jason Nelson asked Longton in cross-examination if Longton had heard him say in court that prosecutors will recommend prison as a sentence. Longton could serve 1 to 15 years in Utah State Prison on the second-degree felony robbery charge.
"I don't remember," Longton said.