Utah teen appears in court for killing of Toquerville woman
Courts • Boy, 17, charged as adult because murder is among bevy of charges that include robbery and arson.
Published: March 26, 2014 09:37AM
Updated: March 25, 2014 10:54PM
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Joshua David Canfield. Courtesy photo

A 17-year-old boy — who was charged as an adult with murder and 11 other charges related to the death of a Toquerville woman — made his first court appearance on Tuesday afternoon.

Joshua David Canfield was charged Tuesday morning in St. George’s 5th District Court with first-degree felony counts of murder and aggravated robbery, one count of second-degree felony arson, three counts of second-degree felony theft, one charge of second-degree felony obstruction of justice, along with third-degree felony charges of aggravated assault and possession or use of a controlled substance. He was also charged with misdemeanor theft and two counts of assaulting a police officer.

Canfield appeared in court via a video feed from the jail, according to Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap. The teen was appointed a public defender and a scheduling hearing was set for April 7.

The defendant — who will turn 18 on Friday — is accused of shooting and killing 58-year-old Geraldine Bommarito on March 18 or 19.

Canfield is being held at the Washington County jail in lieu of $500,000 cash bail.

A 2010 Utah statute mandates that 16- and 17-year-olds charged with murder are under the jurisdiction of adult court.

Sheriff’s deputies found Bommarito’s body while investigating an unrelated burglary at a Toquerville home, where two firearms and collectable coins were taken on that morning.

While investigating the burglary, deputies identified the teen — who is Bommarito’s neighbor — as a possible suspect.

On March 19, the teen was seen at a convenience store in Washington City, where he made a purchase using coins consistent with those taken in the burglary, according to the probable-cause statement.

Witnesses provided a vehicle description and license plate number for the vehicle driven by the suspect, which investigators traced back to Bommarito, the registered owner. When investigators went to the residence listed on the vehicle registration, they discovered the deceased woman, who had been shot at least once.

On the afternoon of March 19, detectives located Canfield in Springdale and took him into custody.

According to a probable cause statement, the teen was “belligerent and combative” with arresting officers. He was not booked into jail until three days later because he was receiving treatment at a medical facility, according to court records.

Washington County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jake Schultz said Tuesday that Canfield has attempted to injure himself twice since he was arrested. Canfield apparently cut his neck before he was booked into the jail, and injured himself again just minutes after he entered the jail. That injury required a five-hour hospital visit and the use of a neck brace, according to Schultz.

The teenager is currently being kept in an isolation cell, Schultz said, and is checked by deputies every 15 minutes.

Canfield was in possession of two firearms that were consistent with evidence at the scene of the homicide, according to the probable cause statement.

Deputies also found a burned car in a remote area of Springdale which they believe may be Bommarito’s. The vehicle was thoroughly burned and the license plate was no longer legible, according to police.

Neighbors have described Bommarito as a nice woman who ran a home cosmetics business and volunteered at nearby Zion National Park. She moved to Toquerville about five years ago and came from an Italian-American family in Las Vegas.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller