LOGAN, Utah, Feb. 21, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Two 16-year-olds will be charged with attempted murder in the case of a 14-year-old Cache County girl who was found gravely injured by a gunshot to the head, and who remains hospitalized, in a medically induced coma.
Desarae Turner, of Amalga, was shot and left in a dry canal bed hours before she was found just after midnight Friday morning, Chief Travis Allen, Smithfield Police Department, said in a Tuesday morning news conference held in Logan.
“She was left alone and injured at that location where she was found,” Allen said. “Officers soon realized she was the focus of a missing juvenile report.”
A friend of the family who was searching for Deserae located the teen and summoned police. Deserae, who was semi-conscious, was taken to a Logan hospital where it was determined she was gravely injured, Allen said.
Deserae was stabilized and flown by medical helicopter to Primary Children’s Hospital, in Salt Lake City, where she was put into a medically induced coma after her head wound was discovered, Allen said.
“This information started a large-scale investigation into the circumstances surrounding Deserae’s condition,” Allen said.
Officers continued to seal off the crime scene, and determined at least one other person had been in the area in the same time frame as the victim, the chief said. Deserae’s friends and acquaintances were interviewed on Friday, and “two 16-year-old males were identified as significant persons of interest,” he said.
Besides the Smithfield Police Department, agencies contributing to the investigation have included the Cache County Sheriff’s Department, Logan City Police Department, the North Park Police Department, the Utah Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the Cache County Attorney’s Office.
“There have been well over 500 man hours dedicated to this investigation up to this point, and there is still more work to do,” Allen said.
“We are mindful of Deserae and her family. All of our efforts have been on their behalf. We know the Turner family has a long road ahead of them, and we wish them all the best.
“We are mindful as well of the families of the suspects in the case,” Allen said. “They have been very cooperative, and they, too, are suffering.”
James Swink, Cache County Attorney, said he hadn’t seen anything like this case in the 18 years he had worked for Cache County.
“It weighs heavy on us in law enforcement to work on a case like this,” he said.
Charges to be filed against each boy by the end of the day include one count of attempted aggravated murder, one count of aggravated robbery, and four counts of obstructing justice, Swink said.
He anticipates a pre-trial arraignment Wednesday morning in 1st District Juvenile Court , Swink said. He will file a motion to have the case moved to adult court, he said.
The Turner family released a statement, read at the news conference by Jill Parker, a victims’ advocate.
“We want to thank law enforcement, the medical team that are caring for Deserae, and for all of the support, prayers, assistance from our community in this time of need. we know that our Father in heaven is watching after her, and all of us have been touched by her. We know that He hears and answers prayers, and we can see his hand at work as Deserae continues to make progress. We ask that you continue to respect our privacy at this time.”
Parker also answered a question about the victim’s current condition.
“Deserae is currently in critical condition. She’s in a medically induced coma, and she is in the fight of her life right now.”
Allen declined to release additional information, saying the investigation was ongoing.
“I can say that this has kind of shaken up our citizens and our community, because, as attorney Swink said, we haven’t seen things like this before.”