Ogden • A 17-year-old girl accused of purposely crashing into a car last year and killing its two occupants will soon resolve her criminal case with admissions in both juvenile and adult courts, her attorneys said Wednesday.
Marilee Patricia Gardner is currently charged as an adult in Ogden’s 2nd District Court with two counts of first-degree felony murder and third-degree felony counts of failure to stop at the command of police and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
She is accused of killing 20-year-old Maddison Haan and 19-year-old Tyler Christianson last June when she rear-ended their sedan with her SUV in Roy on June 30, 2016.
Gardner’s attorney, Tara Issacson, told a 2nd District judge on Wednesday that her client plans to resolve her case by admitting to an attempted murder charge in the juvenile court, followed by a guilty plea to attempted murder in the adult system.
This ”blended sentence” will allow Gardner to stay in a juvenile facility before being sentenced to the adult prison for the crimes, according to the girl’s defense attorney.
To achieve this resolution, prosecutors said they will dismiss the current case pending in the adult court and re-file in the juvenile system. It is expected that Gardner will admit to the allegation there, then come back to the adult court on Oct. 4 to plead guilty.
Isaacson said the goal is to keep Gardner in a juvenile facility until age 21, when she would then face sentencing in adult court — and the potential penalty of a three-year-to-life term at the Utah State Prison.
The defense attorney said these sorts of blended resolutions are becoming more common in Utah.
“I think a lot of prosecutors and a lot of defense lawyers are having to deal with this issue,” she said, ”which is juveniles committing serious offenses. We want these juveniles to get services and treatment. Sending a 16-year-old prison is just not a good idea.”
Haan’s mother, Jocelyn Castillo, said Wednesday that while her family supports the resolution, she didn’t approve of allowing Gardner to plead guilty to attempted murder rather than murder.
“That was not something we agreed on,” she said. ” ... It‘s hard to hear, because that’s not what it is.”
Castillo said she hopes the resolution helps her heal, and helps her other children move on.
“I don‘t know about ’justice,’ ” the mother said. ”But it gives us, hopefully, some peace in the future.”
Just after midnight on June 30, 2016, Gardner, then 16, was driving about 100 mph in a 45 mph zone when she rear-ended a sedan with her SUV, according to charging documents. The impact sent the car into a traffic signal pole near 6000 South and 3500 West in Roy.
Haan was driving the car and died at the scene, according to charges. Her passenger, Tyler Christianson, 19, was taken to a local hospital, where he died from his injuries.
After she was arrested, Gardner allegedly told officers the crash was an attempt to kill herself.
The teen had stolen her parents’ SUV earlier in the evening, charges state. The documents say Gardner has a history of being suicidal.
The Salt Lake Tribune does not typically identify juvenile suspects, unless they are charged in adult court, as Gardner has been.