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September 23, 2014

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Utah beauty queen takes plea deal in bomb case

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Rick Bowmer / AP

Kendra McKenzie Gill stands with her attorney before her court appearance in District Court Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, in Salt Lake City. Gill, a beauty contest winner, and three other teens have taken a plea deal after being accused of tossing homemade bottle bombs in a Salt Lake suburb.

SALT LAKE CITY — A beauty contest winner and three other teens took a plea deal on Thursday after being accused of tossing homemade bottle bombs in a Salt Lake suburb.

Kendra McKenzie Gill and the other 18-year-olds pleaded guilty to attempted possession of a chemical device, a misdemeanor.

The charges will be dismissed after they complete 200 hours of community service. In addition, each was fined $500.

Felony charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

The defendants were initially accused of driving around last month to toss plastic bottles filled with a toilet bowl cleaner that reacted with aluminum foil to explode. They said it was a harmless prank. No one was injured.

Gill was Miss Riverton until she relinquished her crown after her arrest.

Family members and friends of the teens packed the courtroom Thursday and traded hugs after the proceeding.

"We're just happy it didn't come to a felony charge," said Steve Reber, a friend of the Gill family.

The case was fast-tracked because none of the defendants has a criminal history, court officials said.

The other teens who settled the case were John Patrick Reagh, Shanna Marie Smith and Bryce Christopher Stone. None of the defendants commented after the hearing.

Gill topped a slate of nine beauty contestants in June in the Salt Lake City suburb, showing off years of piano training with a Scott Joplin number and taking home a $2,000 scholarship.

Contestants in the pageant — a preliminary competition for the Miss Utah and Miss America competitions — were required to sign a contract certifying they have not been convicted of a crime and don't have criminal charges pending against them.

Pageant officials can revoke a title if a contestant is criminally charged during her reign.

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