An attorney for a Toquerville teen charged as an adult in the death of a neighbor woman said he will fight to move the case into juvenile court.
Joshua David Canfield, who turned 18 on Friday, is accused of shooting and killing 58-year-old Geraldine Bommarito on March 18 or 19.
"He’s been accused of some very bad acts," public defender Aric Cramer said Friday, adding: "I’ve met with him, and he is not an evil person."
Earlier this week, Canfield was charged as an adult in 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 faces up to life in prison, if convicted of the murder count in adult court. In the juvenile system, he could be kept at a detention facility only until he turned 21.
Cramer said he plans to file a motion asking the judge move the case to the juvenile court system — though a 2010 Utah statute mandates that 16- and 17-year-olds charged with murder are under the jurisdiction of adult court.
Canfield, who is being held at the Washington County jail in lieu of $500,000 cash bail, is expected to be back in court on April 7 for a scheduling hearing.
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 earlier this week 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.
Cramer said Friday his client is "doing better" than earlier in the week.
"I think that he’s very repentant, and his health is improving," he said.
Cramer said he has met with Canfield several times at the jail, but does not know much yet about the teen’s history, including any previous criminal history or whether he was in school.
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