Utah Teens Allegedly Left 14-Year-Old for Dead After Shooting Her in the Head and Robbing Her

Christine Pelisek
Deserae Turner: Teen Shooter Pleads Guilty

Two Utah teens were charged Tuesday with the attempted murder of a 14-year-old girl who police said was shot in the back of the head, robbed and then left for dead last week.

The 16-year-old boys, who were arrested over the weekend, are charged with one count each of first-degree felony attempted aggravated murder and aggravated robbery and four counts each of second-degree felony obstructing justice.

The two teen suspects allegedly lured their victim to a dry canal bed in Smithfield, Utah, under the guise of selling her a knife, according to charging documents obtained by PEOPLE.

The county attorney said he plans to try them both as adults, but such a motion has not yet been approved by a judge. A court official says information about the suspects’ attorneys and pleas was not available Wednesday because they’re minors. They remain in custody.

PEOPLE is not identifying the suspects while they are being tried as juveniles.

Authorities say the victim, a ninth-grade girl, was found semi-conscious in the canal, about 90 miles north of Salt Lake City, on Friday. She had been reported missing the previous evening after she didn’t arrive home from school, and she was hospitalized soon after being found.

Family spokesman Jill Parker tells PEOPLE the victim remains in critical condition in a medically-induced coma.

“She is in the fight of her life right now,” Parker told the Salt Lake City Tribune.

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In a statement to PEOPLE, the victim’s family thanked law enforcement and the hospital staff as well as the community for “all the support, prayers, assistance … in our time of need.”

“We know that our Father in Heaven is watching over her and all of us that have been touched by her,” the family’s statement continued. “We know the he hears and answers prayers and we can see his hand at work as continues to make progress.”

Suspect: ‘I Am So So So Sorry’

Police allege the initial plan was to stab the victim to death and then rob her — but one of the suspects decided instead to use a .22-caliber revolver he had brought with him.

That teen brought the gun “as a secondary weapon to be used against if the original plan failed,” the documents allege. He eventually confessed, authorities claim.

When interviewed by police, that same teen allegedly said that after he shot the victim at close range, he stole her cellphone and iPod from her pocket. He allegedly claimed the other teen stole $55 from the victim’s purse and forcibly removed her backpack from her body.

After they robbed her, the duo allegedly tossed the victim’s backpack in a Dumpster in a city park and destroyed her electronics, according to the charging documents.

Greed was the reason they stole the items, the first suspect allegedly told police in his confession. He provided police with “a written apology to family in which he states ‘I am so so so sorry,’ ” the documents claim.

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The teen allegedly told police that after the shooting, he hid the gun under his brother’s mattress and gave the bullet casing to his accomplice as a “memento,” according to the documents. Police found the casing on the teen’s bedroom windowsill.

The second teen was also interviewed by police and initially denied any involvement in the shooting, according to the documents. He later told police he had met his friend at the canal but claimed the friend was with a girl he didn’t know.

He said the girl asked for a ride home and when she turned around to walk away, his friend allegedly pulled out a gun and shot her in the head — which scared him. His interview ended after he asked for an attorney.

Cache County Attorney James Swink told reporters the crime’s violence was unusual, according to the Associated Press.

“I haven’t seen anything like this case in the 18 years I’ve worked ,” he said.