LOGAN — A judge is going to take several days before ruling on whether one of the 16-year-old boys accused in the shooting of Deserae Turner, should be tried as an adult. First District Court Judge Angela Fonnesbeck said she would be doing a disservice if she ruled without reviewing all of the evidence first.
Judge Fonnesbeck said she would announce her ruling Monday morning. Her decision came Tuesday, after a second-day of testimony and closing arguments during the transfer hearing.
Prosecutors called the defendant’s twin brother to testify. He described how in the fall of last year, he and the two suspects were playing video games together. The boy described overhearing the defendant’s talk about how to hide a body, by cutting off the limbs and putting it in a duffle bag, so they could hike into the mountains and hide it.
Later, Smithfield Police detective Brandon Muir showed the sheath knife the defendant reportedly took to the canal on the afternoon of February 16, when the co-defendant shot the 14-year-old Amalga girl in the back of the head.
He and prosecutor Spencer Walsh showed the court text messages between the two defendants, suggesting that the co-defendant tried to lure Turner to the canal five days earlier. The messages referenced “the plan” and “the deed.” They also brought up again the message from the defendant, sent on the day of the shooting that said, “Let’s get this done bro.”
Muir testified that the State Crime Lab conducted a ballistics test on the .22 revolver, suspected to have been used in the shooting. They determined that the shell casing, taken from the defendant’s window sill, had observable marks consistent with the gun.
During cross examination though, defense attorney Shannon Demler showed how the report was inconclusive as to whether the casing was fired from the revolver.
The most emotional testimony came from Deserae’s mother, April Turner. She said her daughter will have lasting impacts the rest of her life from the shooting. She told the court how her daughter is like a toddler that you have to watch at all times. She also described how the girl is half blind because her eyes work, but her brain can’t process what they see.
During closing arguments, Demler said what happened to Turner was tragic but prosecutors had still failed to show that his client was a part of the shooting. He described how the defendant has no criminal history and is not as culpable as the other defendant. He asked the judge to leave the 16-year-old in the juvenile system, saying it is best for the community to treat and recognize minors differently than adults.
Cache County Attorney James Swink placed a large photo in front of the court, showing the shell casing in the defendant’s room. He said the smoking gun may not have been in the defendant’s hands but the smoking bullet was in his windowsill. He asked the judge to transfer the teenager to adult court because the community can’t consider itself safe, if the defendant is released when he turns 21.
The defendant never testified during the two-day hearing and sat next to his attorney, twitching his leg up and down. He has been charged with attempted aggravated murder, attempted burglary and four counts of obstructing justice. He remains housed in the Juvenile Detention Center.
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