OGDEN, Utah (AP) — A teen girl agreed to a plea deal Wednesday after being accused of speeding into another car and killing two people last year when police tried to pull her over on her way to carry out a suicide pact.
The 17-year-old pleaded guilty to a reduced count of attempted murder and will be held in a juvenile facility until she is 21.
She will then plead guilty to a second attempted murder count in adult court and serve time in state prison, her lawyer Tara Isaacson told the Standard-Examiner in Ogden.
After a long pause to keep from crying in court, the girl apologized to the families of Maddison Haan, 20, and Tyler Christianson, 19, who were killed in the crash.
"I know it doesn't change anything, but I am truly sorry," she said.
The Associated Press is not naming the defendant because she's a minor.
Weber County Attorney Chris Allred has said the plea deal that reduced the charges from murder to attempted murder ensures the girl will spend time in prison as an adult after she's released from the juvenile system.
Family members of Haan and Christianson also spoke. Their emotions ranged from mournful to angry, with some calling the defendant a murderer.
Haan's mother Jocelyn Castillo shared family and personal milestones that her daughter has missed, including her first day at Weber State University.
Authorities said the girl stole her parents' car in June 2016 and drove toward a friend's house so they could take drugs and kill themselves together. A police officer noticed the car dragging a trash can behind it and tried to pull her over.
She told officers after the crash that she decided to go through with the suicide as soon as she saw the officer, and hit the gas rather than stopping, according to charging documents. Her SUV slammed into another car at 98 mph in Roy, about 30 miles north of Salt lake City.
The plea agreement came after a judge rejected an effort to move the case to juvenile court. Defense attorneys argued that adult prison time would be cruel and unusual for the girl, who doesn't have a prior criminal record. State law puts serious cases filed against defendants 16 and older directly in adult court.
Information from: Standard-Examiner, http://www.standard.net