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Judge Rules Teen Must Stand Trial in Death of 15-Year-Old Girl

Judge Rules Teen Must Stand Trial in Death of 15-Year-Old Girl

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- A judge has ordered a 15-year-old boy charged in the death of a teenage girl to stand trial on charges of rape, aggravated assault and murder.

Keely Amber Hall, 15, was found strangled in a St. George park on Jan. 10.

A hearing will be scheduled to decide whether the boy should be tried as an adult.

During a probably cause hearing Thursday in 5th District Juvenile Court, prosecutors presented detailed evidence from the scene at Dixie Downs Park.

St. George police detective Allen Johnson described what he saw when he arrived at the park, which serves as the playground for a nearby elementary school.

He described finding the girl's partially nude and battered body with a cell phone lying beside it.

Johnson said he called the last number that came through the cell phone and the defendant, then 14, answered. Police brought the boy and two others in for questioning.

"He (the defendant) said he just met Keely earlier that day," Johnson testified. "All through the interview he referred to her as 'that girl' and said he and the others had been hanging out at his house earlier drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana."

Later that evening, the defendant and Hall met up at the park, Johnson said.

During the interview with Johnson, the defendant described how he grabbed Hall and she called him a bad name, which the boy said caused him to "trip out." Johnson testified that the defendant told him he put his hand over Hall's mouth with his arm around her neck to hold her down while he ripped off her clothes and raped her. The boy said at some point he realized Hall was not breathing and he left, Johnson testified.

The boy did not intentionally kill Hall, defense attorney Kenneth Combs said. "The issue before the court is whether she was actually dead during sexual intercourse," Combs said.

Judge Thomas Higbee ruled there was probable cause that the defendant committed the crimes. He also scheduled a July 5 hearing to determine if experts can testify for the defense during a later hearing to decide if the boy should be tried as an adult.

Higbee has ordered news media not to publish or broadcast the boy's name.

------ Information from: Deseret Morning News.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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