LOGAN, Utah, Oct. 10, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — One of two teens charged as adults with the attempted aggravated murder of their Smithfield High School classmate, Deserae Turner, has pleaded guilty to reduced charges in the case.
Colter Danny Peterson, now 17, pleaded guilty to:
• Attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, and
• Aggravated attempted robbery, a first-degree felony that was reduced to a second-degree felony under the plea deal
Four charges of obstruction of justice, second-degree felonies, were dropped.
Peterson, who admitted to being the shooter according to court testimony, now faces 15 years to life in prison. The judge has the option to reduce the sentenced to as little as six-years in prison, according to James Swink, Cache County Attorney.
Peterson was age 16 on Feb. 16, 2017, when Turner, then 14, was shot in the head with a .22 caliber handgun and left for dead in a dry canal bed near her school, in Smithfield.
An investigation found that Peterson and Jayzon V. Decker, who is still 16, lured Turner to the site after Peterson became annoyed by her attention to him on social media.
Before leaving the teen, they reportedly took $55 from Turner’s purse, tossed her backpack in a trash bin and destroyed her cellphone and iPod.
Turner, who was found more than eight hours later by a searcher, was flown to Primary Children’s Hospital and placed into a medically induced coma for several months. She faces an ongoing therapy as she deals with traumatic brain injury, the loss of strength in her left side, and partial blindness. Her family has said she will never be the same, and cannot be left without a caregiver.
Deserae’s father, Matt Turner, spoke after the guilty plea, saying “our lives have been changed,” but that the plea deal was in the best interest of his daughter and family.
Swink said the state will seek the maximum penalty in the case, and that the plea deal still makes that possible.
“It still gives the state and judge every opportunity to hand down an appropriate sentence,” Swink said. “This saves the family a lot of anxiety as we prepare for trial.”
Decker, who faces the exact charges Peterson did prior to his plea deal, was in court Tuesday for a review hearing. Decker has not accepted a plea deal at this point, so the case will go to trial.
A GoFundMe account established in Deserae’s name, has raised more than $55,000.