FARMINGTON — A 15-year-old boy facing two counts of murder in the deaths of his two younger brothers will have a hearing on the evidence against him in August.
Second District Juvenile Court Judge Janice Frost will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the charges against the teenager. Once she does, there will be a second hearing on whether the case will proceed in juvenile or adult court. Prosecutors have already filed a motion seeking to have the teen stand trial as an adult.
At a hearing Tuesday, the teen was advised of the charges against him and a preliminary hearing was set for Aug. 27. The boy listened intently with his brow furrowed, his lip darkened with a shadow of a mustache as the judge addressed him.
The teenager has been charged in the deaths of Alex Vidinhar, 10, and Benjie Vidinhar, 4, who were found dead in their West Point home on May 22 with "wounds consistent with a stabbing," according to investigators. They were being watched by their older brother while their mother and sisters were away at a dance recital.
When the mother returned home, the bodies of the two boys were discovered. Police searched for several hours before eventually finding the older brother several miles away.
The teenager was flanked by his father and defense attorneys Tuesday. Attorney Todd Sessions said his client would waive his rights on both the timeliness of the preliminary hearing and a trial.
This is important enough that we need to make sure that we have all the information gathered.
–Todd Sessions, attorney
"This is important enough that we need to make sure that we have all the information gathered," he said. "We've talked to (the boy) and he understands that we need to procedurally do this in a way that looks out for his best interests."
The boys' father, who declined to comment Tuesday, has stated previously that he did not want his teenage son tried as an adult or to face a possible sentence of life in prison without parole. Defense attorney Todd Utzinger said the parent's opinion is "one of many factors" that the judge will consider when determining whether to order the youth to stand trial as a juvenile or as an adult.
He said the judge will look at the teenager's background, the nature of the offense and the resources available to the teenager in both the adult and juvenile systems, among other things, before making decision whether to certify the teen as an adult.
A 15-year-old certified to stand trial as an adult, however, would be placed in an adult detention facility, even while still a teen, and could be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison.
"Our belief is juveniles should stay in juvenile court," Utzinger said, pointing to his client's young age and the possible negative impacts of serving his time in adult detention.
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said when charges were filed that "neither of these alternatives is attractive," but that his office focuses primarily on public safety when making the decision to try and have the teen certified as an adult.
The boy's father has said previously that the family "never imagined something like this could happen," and he believes emotional or mental health issues may have played a role in the tragic incident. Utzinger said the fact that the teenager's father was sitting next to him Tuesday "speaks volumes."
"It's an impossible situation for a parent to go through and they're handling it as best they can," he said.