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Attorney requests mental evaluation for Utah teen charged with murder

Published August 22, 2014 3:05 pm

Courts • Defense makes request based on observations, communications.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

An attorney for a Toquerville teen charged as an adult in the death of a neighbor woman has asked a judge to order a competency review for the teen.

Joshua David Canfield, 18, is accused of shooting and killing 58-year-old Geraldine Bommarito on March 18 or 19.

Canfield appeared in 5th District Court on Thursday, where defense attorney Aric Cramer asked for an evaluation to determine whether his client is competent to stand trial.

According to a motion filed in court, Cramer said this request was based on his "observations and communication" with the teen.

A review hearing was set for October, according to the St. George Spectrum.

Canfield, though he was 17 years old at the time of the alleged crimes, was charged as an adult 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 shortly after charges were filed in March that he planned to file a motion asking the judge to 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.

Sheriff's deputies found Bommarito's body on March 19 while investigating an unrelated burglary at a Toquerville home, where two firearms and collectable coins were taken that morning.

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

Earlier 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 body of the woman, who had been shot at least once.

That afternoon, 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.

jmiller@sltrib.com