LOGAN, Utah — Two 16-year-old boys who plotted to shoot a 14-year-old girl in the head because her Snapchat messages were “annoying” will be tried as adults, a judge ruled this week.
First District Juvenile Court Judge Angela Fonnesbeck announced her decisions on Monday and Wednesday regarding defendants Colter Peterson and his accomplice Jayzen Decker.
“He planned and he acted. He pulled the trigger. He took deliberate and specific action intending to take the life of another human being,” she said of Peterson.
According to reports, after being arrested, Peterson told police that he became annoyed that Deserae Turner, 14, kept texting him and sending him messages via the app Snapchat. Peterson told Decker about the matter, who allegedly advised that it would “be pretty easy to get rid of her.”
The two then plotted to lure Turner to a canal under the guise of selling her a pocket knife, where they initially planned to slit her throat.
The teens changed their mind about the method of attack and ultimately decided to shoot Turner in the head. Peterson is accused of pulling the trigger and Decker is facing charges for egging Peterson on to shoot the girl.
Both boys are also accused of breaking Turner’s cellphone and iPod, and stealing $55 from her backpack while leaving her for dead.
Turner miraculously survived the incident after being found by two women who decided to walk a trail along the canal when her parents reported her missing. The girl now suffers from paralysis on the left side and partial blindness. She still has bullet fragments in her brain.
“She has undergone a tough surgery and continues to fight for the ability to complete daily tasks many of us take for granted,” Turner’s father told reporters in March.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, during testimony this week, Peterson’s family told the court that his actions were uncharacteristic of his “kind and gentle” demeanor. But Smithfield Detective Brandon Muir testified that a link had been found on the teen’s phone that contained violent content, including ISIS beheadings and pornography.
Judge Fonnesbeck expressed concern over the revelation, and said that she was unsure as to whether Peterson was sorry for the act or for being caught. She ordered that both he and Decker stand trial as adults.
Peterson’s attorney, David Perry, expressed disagreement with Fonnesbeck’s decision.
“It’s unfair that he didn’t remain here in the juvenile system, because this system has so much more opportunities for rehabilitation, treatment, education. He’s only 16-years-old,” he said. “If he goes to prison, by the time he gets out, it will be 17 years … before he could even be thought of being released. That’s longer than he is old.”
Decker’s attorney, Shannon Demler, told the court that the teen is remorseful for his participation in the plot.
“He’s very apologetic,” she said. “He understands a terrible thing happened, and even though he didn’t have the gun, he wasn’t the shooter [and] do anything such as that, he definitely is apologetic for any actions that he had that [were] involved in this situation.”
Both teenagers are now facing charges of attempted aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and obstruction of justice.