16-year-old Marilee Gardner to be tried as adult on 2 murder charges

Marilee Gardner, now 17, of Layton, is shown at an earlier court date, with attorney Walter Bugden. Photo Courtesy: Court Pool

OGDEN, Utah, Sept. 8, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Judge Brent West ruled on Thursday that regardless of a motion filed by the attorney for teen Marilee Gardner, she will be tried as an adult on two counts of murder.

Police say Gardner, 16, on June 30 of this year intentionally struck a car carrying Maddison Haan, 20, of West Point, and Tyler Christian, 19, of Ogden, killing both at the scene. She used her parents’ SUV to crash into the Hyundai Accent (previously identified in police documents as a Dodge Dart).

When the SUV hit the car, at 6000 South and 3500 West, Roy, it was traveling at nearly 100 mph in a 45 mph zone, and after impact, it drove through two yards, striking a fence and a parked car before stopping in a field, according to police.

The Roy victims were 20-year-old Madison Haan, of West Point and 19-year-old Tyler Christianson, of Ogden. Photo: Facebook

According to arrest documents, Gardner, of Layton, told responding officers she had struck the vehicle in an attempt to kill herself. She had planned to meet a friend, buy drugs, and complete a suicide pact, she reportedly told officers.

Gardner, who initially left the scene, is charged with two counts of murder, one count of failing to stop at the command of a police officer, and one count of failure to remain at an accident involving death.

Gardner has been held at a juvenile detention facility.

Defense attorney Tara Isaacson argued that Gardner does not think like an adult, but like a child. Isaacson said the direct filing of murder charges against Gardner as an adult was unconstitutional.

Second District Court Judge West said the U.S. Supreme Court already has ruled on the issue, and that it is constitutional.

“No one has the right to juvenile court,” West said.

If Gardner is convicted as an adult, she could be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for each count of murder. The Supreme Court has ruled that minors convicted of murder cannot be sentenced to death or life without the possibility of parole.

Gardner’s next hearing is Oct. 19.

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