DRAPER Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Charles Richard Jennings claimed he no longer hears voices.
In 2013, Jennings claimed he heard voices which caused him to go inside a Catholic church and shoot his father-in-law.
Jennings is up for parole and appeared before a hearing officer Thursday to explain what happened and changes he’s made since that day. Hearing officer Curtis Garner asked Jennings what was going on with him that day.
“I’d been up on meth for a long time,” said Jennings. “I was staying up on meth for about seven days. I’d sleep once and stay up again.”
It was on Fathers Day when Jennings entered St. James the Just Catholic church in Ogden.
Mass was about to begin and Jim and Tara Evans were sitting towards the back when Jennings shot Jim once. Evans was injured but perhaps divine intervention played a role in his survival.
He said he turned at the last moment and the bullet penetrated his cheek instead of the back of his skull.
The bullet went through his mouth, shattering his teeth and damaging his tongue. Evans said he was about to kneel to pray when Jennings came upon him.
“I didn’t even know Ricky had come into the church,” Evans told the hearing officer. “I was just standing there and felt and heard an explosion. So I didn’t have the trauma like my wife had.”
Ogden police said Jennings ran from the church and broke into two homes before stealing a car. He was arrested near Brigham City and eventually pleaded guilty but mentally ill.
“I was seriously out of my mind at the time,” Jennings said. “I was hallucinating and hearing voices. I was thinking he was hypnotizing me for some reason.”
Jennings told the hearing officer he no longer hears voices now that he’s sober. He said he’s taking classes to get his high school diploma and has not created problems in prison.
But for his victims, they can’t shake the horror he inflicted on that Fathers Day in church.
“Did he consider the trauma of those who had to hear the shooting, screaming and then see the blood, gone and teeth gushing out of my husband when all when all they intended to do that day was worship God?” Evan’s wife, Tara said. “To all of us who were in that church that day, this world will never be the same again. Please never let him out of prison.”
In closing, hearing officer Garner advised Jennings that the entire Board of Pardons will determine his future in prison.
“This was a horrible crime,” Garner said. “There has to be a price to pay.”