LOGAN — A 34-year-old Smithfield man has confessed to breaking into the Logan Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last winter. Peter A. Ambrose accepted a plea deal that will likely keep him from being sentenced to prison.
Ambrose appeared in 1st District Court for a review hearing Tuesday afternoon, appearing by video from the Cache County Jail. He pleaded guilty to the amended charges of burglary and criminal mischief, both second-degree felonies.
On December 24, Ambrose was arrested after police found him locked inside a room on the main floor of the temple. He had used a ladder to climb over the building’s exterior fence, breaking the glass doors with an ax and gaining entry into the temple.
Once inside, Logan City police officers reported Ambrose damaged paintings, tore down curtains and used the ax to shatter a mirror. A fire extinguisher was also sprayed over furniture and the floors.
Shortly after his arrest, Ambrose claimed he broke no earthly laws and couldn’t be charged with breaking into a house of god’s. He rambled about how he was angry about some “personal problems,” at the time the crime occurred. He said he should have just taken his medication or smoked cannabis, which he claimed helped his diabetes.
In February, Ambrose was found incompetent to stand trial, after several doctors evaluated him and found he was unable to adequately defend himself in court. A judge transferred him to the Utah State Medical Hospital to undergo treatment.
During Tuesday’s review hearing, Judge Angela Fonnesbeck said she had received a letter from doctors at the state hospital. They reported Ambrose had been restored to mental competency and could proceed with the court process.
Ambrose spoke briefly, telling the court he was guilty of the charges. He said that he didn’t want to waste the court’s time anymore and wanted to be able to get out of jail as soon as possible to work on his family’s farm.
Public defender Mike McGinnis explained that as part of the plea deal, prosecutors will not ask for a prison term at the time of sentencing. They also agreed to allow credit for the time the defendant has already served in jail.
Judge Fonnesbeck ordered Ambrose to remain in jail and undergo a presentence report. She scheduled sentencing for June 16.
The temple was closed early December 24 after Ambrose was located and arrested. It remained closed through the Christmas holiday and reopened December 26.