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Prosecutors want 14-year-old suspect in West Valley City shooting tried as an adult

“I just want you to know that I’m a good kid,” the boy said in court Wednesday.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) More that a hundred people gather at the candlelight vigil of Hunter High football players Paul Tahi , 15, Tivani Lopati, 14, and Ephraim Asiata, 15, on Friday, Jan 14, 2022, in West Valley City, near Hunter High School along 1400 South at Mountain View Corridor. Paul Tahi and Tivani Lopati were killed in a shooting, while Ephraim Asiata was critically wounded.

Prosecutors want the 14-year-old suspect in last week’s fatal West Valley City shooting to face charges in adult court, FOX 13 reported.

During a Wednesday hearing in juvenile court, the boy said to Judge Mark May, “Your honor, I just want you to know that I’m a good kid,” according to FOX 13.

The boy is suspected of fatally shooting Tivani Lopati, 14, and Paul Tahi, 15, as well as critically wounding Ephraim Asiata, 15. An update on Asiata’s condition was not available Wednesday.

The boy will remain in juvenile detention in the meantime, the judge ruled, which will give the state more time to file charges in the case before a mandated deadline.

All sides agreed to meet again on Jan. 26.

On Jan. 13, police said two groups of high school students got into a fight on the sidewalk along 4100 South, near Hunter High School. All three boys who were shot played football for Hunter High.

Police continue to investigate.

It will ultimately be up to a juvenile judge to decide if the teen suspect will face charges in adult court. The judge will hear evidence of the alleged crime, as well as information about the teen — including his mental health history — before making that decision.

If the youth’s case is moved to the adult system, he would face the same penalties if convicted as if he were an adult, which is up to life in prison. If his case remains in the juvenile system, he can be held in youth lock-up until he is 21.

See more at FOX 13.

— The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX 13 are content-sharing partners.

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