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Utah boy, 16, fighting 1-to-15-year prison sentence
Plea deal » Teen expected jail time, probation — not prison — for robbery.

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"I believed there would be no prison sentence," Cole wrote in a court declaration filed last week, noting that "a 402 reduction cannot follow imprisonment."

"We were completely shocked," father Marc Van Huizen told The Tribune on Friday. "We were amazed… Had I known what I know now, I would not have allowed my son to accept that plea deal. I’m the one who told him to do it. [I thought] we had the ability to put this all behind him."

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Marc Van Huizen said he believes a fair resolution would have been keeping his son in juvenile court and allowing him to spend a year in a juvenile detention facility.

"He’s 16 years old," the father said. "Some 16-years-olds are more mature than others, but Cooper is really soft and tender emotionally. He’s just a nice, sweet young boy, always has been. He’s not this rough-and-tough wanna-be street-wise little kid."

Cole said Thursday that he did tell Cooper Van Huizen’s parents that "there was always the chance" that their son could be sent to prison. But the attorney noted that a co-defendant, 17-year-old Joshua Dutson, took the same plea deal and Jones sentenced him to 210 days in jail.

And another teen involved in the robberies, 19-year-old Tomek Perkins, pleaded guilty to second-degree felony counts of attempted robbery and burglary and was sentenced in April to 180 days in jail.

"We were expecting [at most] 210 days," Cole said of Van Huizen’s sentence. "When the judge came back with two 1-to-15 [concurrent prison sentences], we were more than shocked."

The cases of another two teens are still pending in 2nd District Court, according to court records.

A Weber County juvenile prosecutor did not return a call seeking comment.

Prison » No hearing date has been set on Cooper Van Huizen’s motions. Meanwhile, he hasn’t been allowed to see his parents due to prison orientation rules, he wrote in a court declaration, and he’s worried about his dog.

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"I am scared to death," his father said.

"If by chance my son was not in the protective facility — there are rapes that go on out there. My son would become a toy for those other men … That’s what’s really scaring him. Not to mention his future. He made one mistake. If there is anybody worthy of a second chance, it’s him."

Prison spokeswoman Brooke Adams could not verify the teen’s claims that he was being held in the Uintah 1 unit, citing safety and security reasons. Adams did say that the teen was in a single-inmate cell as of last Wednesday and has been checked regularly by medical and mental health staff.

"The plan is to move him when appropriate," she said, "to a smaller county jail or other suitable housing within the Utah State Prison or the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison."

Adams said that Van Huizen is one of 18 juveniles who have been sent to the prison since 2009.

jmiller@sltrib.com Twitter: @jm_miller

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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