Nine weeks after she was shot in the head and left to die in a Smithfield canal, 14-year-old Deserae Turner was released from the hospital Thursday.

Wearing a white T-shirt with the word "Happy" scrawled on the front, the teen said Thursday that her clothing reflected how she felt: happy to go home. Happy to soon see the horses that she loves. Happy to be alive.

"I am so thankful to be here today — to be alive," Turner said during a news conference Thursday, adding that she was thankful to the doctors and others at Primary Children's Hospital who helped her after the Feb. 16 shooting.

Turner has been working hard on her recovery since the shooting and said she still has "a lot of work to do."

"I told my dad that I am tougher than a bullet," she said. "[The bullet] is still with me today. But I am here, and I get to go home today."

Two 16-year-old boys have been charged with attempted murder and other crimes in connection with Turner's shooting. They are accused of luring Turner to the canal that February afternoon under the guise of selling her a pocketknife. Authorities say she was shot in the back of the head by one of the boys as she walked away from them.

The pending criminal cases were not discussed during Thursday's news conference. Details about the extent of the girl's injuries or her recovery process were not shared.

But Matt Turner said they have seen "many miracles" as his daughter has recovered.

"What a great day," he said. "Because of the love and care of so many, we are taking our beautiful, courageous daughter home today. Nine weeks ago, we did not know if that was possible."

Turner family members thanked those who have shown them kindness and who have prayed for the girl in the past few months.

The teen said she was surprised to see how her story spread throughout the world — even some people in the Netherlands, she said, offered their support for her.

"People all over the world have been praying for me," she said. "And some of them I know and some of them I have never met. ... But they cared for me. I would like others to know that people are kind and they do care about us and are concerned about us, even when we think no one is there."

Deserae Turner used a wheelchair as she arrived at Thursday's event, but she walked a short distance to a table where she sat with her parents. Her hair was cut short — a style she plans to keep if her hair doesn't grow back curly like it once was. During the news conference, the teen shared long looks with her mother and held her hand.

In the criminal cases, prosecutors have asked for the two teens to stand trial in the adult court — a decision that a juvenile court judge is expected to make next month.

If the cases remain in juvenile court, the maximum penalty the teens could receive is a stay 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 was reported missing Feb. 16 by her parents after she did not return home from school. By that evening, news of her disappearance had spread on social media.

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.

Initially, first responders believed Turner was suffering from hypothermia. Later medics found the gunshot wound in the back of her head.

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.

jmiller@sltrib.com

An investigator searchs for evidence where a missing girl was found in an irrigation ditch in Smithfield on Friday.
Investigators search for evidence where a missing girl was found in an irrigation ditch in Smithfield on Friday.
Investigators search for evidence where a missing girl was found in an irrigation ditch in Smithfield on Friday.
Smithfield Police Chief Travis Allen speaks at a press conference with Cache County Attorney James Swink on Tuesday in Logan. (Eli Lucero/Herald Journal)
Cache County Attorney James Swink, speaks at a press conference with Jill Parker, of the Cache County Victims Advocate Group, on Tuesday in Logan. (Eli Lucero/Herald Journal)
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner, tightly holds on to her mother's hand as her father Matt Turner, reads a statement during a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner smiles at all the cameras there to take her photo as her father Matt Turner reads a statement at left, and her mother April Turner, at right, during a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner, with her father Matt Turner, left, turns toward her mother April Turner, right, during a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner, speaks with her father Matt Turner, left, and her mother April Turner, right, during a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner, listens to questions with her father Matt Turner, left, and her mother April Turner, right, during a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner, center, with her father Matt Turner, left, and her mother April Turner, right, during a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner takes a last peek at the media gathered in a small conference room to see her as she leaves a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner, with her father Matt Turner, left, turns toward her mother April Turner, right, during a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner, listens as her father speaks at a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner, listens as her father speaks at a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner, holds hands with her mother April Turner, as they get ready to field questions at a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner arrives in a wheelchair as her mother April Turner, and father Matt Turner are last to enter as they attend a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner is helped to her seat by her father Matt Turner, and mother April Turner, right, as they arrive to attend a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner takes her seat assisted by her father Matt Turner at left, and mother April Turner, right. They spoke at a press conference held at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner looks toward her mother as her father speaks at a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Deserae Turner, speaks with her father Matt Turner, left, and her mother April Turner, right, during a press conference at Primary ChildrenÕs Hospital, Thursday, April 20, 2017.