Teen accused of helping friend shoot girl in head

AP News
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Posted: Mar 23, 2017 12:12 AM

LOGAN, Utah (AP) — A second teenager was ordered to stand trial Wednesday by a juvenile court judge who determined there's sufficient evidence to suggest he helped plan an attack that ended with his friend wounding a girl with a gunshot to the head.

After the hearing, the girl's father spoke publicly for the first time since his daughter, Deserae Turner, 14, was found Feb. 17 in a dry canal in the small town of Smithfield, a suburb around Logan, Utah.

Matt Turner said Deserae began intensive inpatient rehabilitation therapies on Wednesday and that the family is hopeful she'll keep improving, the Deseret News reports (http://bit.ly/2mWHhpm ).

"She has undergone a tough surgery and continues to fight for the ability to complete daily tasks many of us take for granted," said Turner, reading from a prepared statement.

Authorities testified during two days of evidentiary hearings this week that the 16-year-old boys concocted the plan in small-town Utah while playing video games and discussing their desire to "get rid" of the girl who was sending messages to one of them, authorities said.

"I just didn't want anything to do with Snapchatting her anymore," one of the 16-year-old boys said, according to a statement he gave to police that was read aloud in juvenile court Tuesday.

"Well, you've got a 6-inch blade, why don't you do it yourself," his friend replied.

The first boy said he first thought it was a "crude joke" but they kept plotting and settled on a plan that called for him to slit Deserae's throat, the statement said.

He could not go through with it, so instead he shot her in the back of the head in an isolated ditch behind a high school using a gun he grabbed from underneath his brother's mattress, police said.

"That's how this cruel, unsuspecting and terrible act occurred," said Cache County Attorney James Swink on Wednesday.

They have been charged with attempted aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and obstruction of justice in the attack on Deserae.

The Associated Press is not naming the boys because they are juveniles.

Prosecutors said they will seek to have them charged as adults. Hearings have been scheduled for May for a judge to make a decision.

The AP is part of a media coalition that persuaded a judge to keep the proceedings open to the public.

An attorney for the teen suspected of planning the attack but not pulling the trigger argued that his client was not involved. Defense attorney Shannon Demler said the prosecution's case against the teen is built only on statements from the other suspect, who he called a "a murderer" and "a liar."

Prosecutors showed a video of Deserae in the hospital in which she recalled seeing both suspects in the canal before she was shot.

Investigators said they identified the teens after learning of text messages Deserae sent to a friend saying, "I'm getting picked on."

Cache County sheriff's Deputy Brian said the teen who fired the shot told him that without his friend there, he would not have had the courage to shoot Deserae.

The boys then broke her cellphone and iPod and took $55 they found in her backpack, police said.

Groves said that when he asked the boy why they took the money, the teen said, "greed."

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This story has been corrected to show the teens were charged with attempted aggravated murder, not aggravated murder.