Logan • The twin brother of one of two 16-year-old boys accused of shooting Deserae Turner described how the suspects once discussed how to dispose of a body.
The brother said Tuesday that the other two boys talked about how it would be easier if the body's limbs were cut off.
"Then you could put them in a duffle bag," the brother testified.
He said the conversation arose in November while all three boys were playing a violent "Call of Duty" video game.
The brother was called as a witness by the prosecution in a hearing to determine whether his twin will remain in juvenile court or move to adult court.
The prosecution wants the cases of both defendants moved to adult court. Defense attorney Shannon Demler wants the cases to stay in the juvenile system. To do so, the defense must prove that trying the teens in juvenile court would be in the best interests of them and of the public — a caveat necessitated because of the case's severity.
First District Juvenile Court Judge Angela Fonnesbeck scheduled another hearing for 9 a.m. Monday to announce her ruling. The same kind of hearing for the second defendant is also scheduled for that day.
This week's two-day hearing, which began Monday, is for the boy who is not accused of firing the bullet that struck 14-year-old Turner in the head, but both boys are charged with attempted murder and other crimes in connection with her Feb. 16 shooting.
On Monday, the defendant's mother testified that she had a difficult pregnancy and that the defendant received fewer nutrients in the womb than his twin. The defendant also had more difficulty learning and developing than his twin did, the mother testified.
On Tuesday, the twin testified about how their parents' divorce upset the defendant more than it upset him. The defendant briefly lived with their father and returned to their mother's home less willing to follow rules and yelling more, the twin said.
"He was just really angry," the twin testified.
Under questioning from Deputy Cache County Attorney Spencer Walsh, the twin said the defendant was not violent at home, but he acknowledged that one sister was afraid to be home alone with him.
The two defendants lived in Smithfield and attended Sky View High School. Turner attended North Cache Middle School in Richmond, and she lives in Amalga.
Earlier Tuesday, Kirk Lambert, an officer with Utah Adult Probation and Parole, testified about how that agency and the Utah State Prison work to rehabilitate offenders. Lambert said a "major intervention" would be needed to ensure that someone accused of a crime like shooting Turner would not be a danger to the public.
The adult prison system, Lambert said, would be best equipped for that kind of intervention.
Under cross-examination, Lambert acknowledged that he doesn't know which resources are available in the juvenile system.
Defense attorney Shannon Demler asked whether his client would be more at risk of being assaulted at the adult prison.
"He'll be exposed to harm," Lambert replied. "Whether it's more than what's in society, I can't say."
Smithfield detective Brandon Muir, much as he did at preliminary hearings last month, testified again about evidence in the case. This time, however, he said a crime lab analyzed a .22-caliber bullet casing found on the defendant's window sill. Tests were "inconclusive" in showing whether the casing's bullet was fired from the same gun used to shoot Turner, Muir said.
Prosecutors have described that casing as a "trophy" kept by the defendant.
The hearing's last witness was Turner's mother, April Turner. She testified about her daughter's diagnosis and recovery. The teen, called "Des" for short, spent nine weeks at Primary Children's Hospital with a traumatic injury to the right side of her brain. She was released from the hospital on April 20.
"Her left side is not functioning properly," April Turner said Tuesday. "There's left-side weaknesses in her muscles."
At times crying, the mother said her daughter has no function in her left arm and hand, and can't see on the left. She must be attended to at all times because she is at risk for falling and choking, April Turner testified. Des also will never drive.
Doctors aren't sure of the extent to which the girl will recover, the mother said.
If the cases remain in juvenile court, the maximum penalty the teens could receive is confinement in a secure juvenile care facility until they turn 21. In the adult system, they would face the same penalties as if they were adults.
Turner's parents reported her missing Feb. 16 after she did not return home from school. Two women who knew her family decided to walk a trail near the canal that evening and spotted the girl, according to preliminary hearing testimony. They covered her with their coats, the women testified, and called 911.
The Salt Lake Tribune generally does not identify juveniles who have been charged with crimes, unless they have been certified to stand trial in adult court.