OGDEN, Utah, July 27, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Friends and family members of the victims crowded an Ogden courtroom Wednesday morning to see the next step in the prosecution of 16-year-old Marilee Gardner, charged as an adult with two counts of murder in the June 30 deaths of 20-year-old Maddison Haan, of West Point, and 19-year-old Tyler Christianson, of Ogden.
Gardner, traveling at a high rate of speed, hit the vehicle carrying Haan and Christianson, who died at the scene. Gardner later told police she hit the vehicle intentionally, according to charging documents.
On Wednesday morning, the defense informed 2nd District Court Judge Brent West of its intention to question the constitutionality of the direct filing procedure, which allowed the Layton teen to be automatically charged as an adult due to the severity of the charges against her.
The two other legal pathways that can result in a juvenile suspect being tried as adult both require more rigorous assessment of the individual and his or her life circumstances and history.
Direct filing can be used only when the charges are murder or aggravated murder.
Prosecution attorneys said they would review the defenses paperwork, once it is filed. The next court date was set for Sept. 8.
Gardner, who reportedly waived her Miranda Rights at the scene, told officers she she had made a suicide pact with a friend she was traveling to Roy to meet.
Gardner was notice by police in Clinton, who saw her dragging a trash can behind the white Chevy Tahoe she was driving. Gardner did not stop, so officers pursued her.
At about 12:10 a.m. June 30, Gardner’s SUV struck the back of a Hundai Accent stopped at the intersection of 6000 South and 3500 West, Roy.
The Hundai’s occupants, Haan and Christianson, died at the scene.
Gardner fled on foot to a nearby grocery store, and called her family. Apprehended shortly afterward, Gardner reportedly waived her Miranda Rights and told officers she had hit the Hundai intentionally.
Benjamin B. Willoughby, Deputy County Attorney, Criminal Division, for Weber County, said afterward that case law existed regarding the constitutionality of direct filing, but he would not have further comment before reading the pending paperwork.
Lee Castillo, an uncle to Haan, said after the court proceedings that his family hoped to see Gardner tried as an adult.
“It would be disheartening,” to see Gardner tried as a juvenile, which would carry lesser penalties,” Castillo said.
“She is a juvenile who has had multiple opportunities to turn herself around. Lives have been taken…. It is up to the judge to determine if she will be tried as an adult, and held to higher standards.
Castillo said he has worked for the state, and seen juveniles stand trial as adults for killing one person.
“She took two lives,” he said. “A person with disregard for the law needs to be held accountable.”
Castillo said it was his family and Christianson’s that filled so many of the courtroom seats that a dozen or so people were left standing against the walls.
“We will be here at every hearing so the judge can see that our lives were impacted. We are missing a piece.”