Estimated read time: 6-7 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
SALT LAKE CITY — The fatal injuries sustained by 15-year-old Anne Kasprzak were in no way caused by an accident, a state medical examiner testified Monday.
"I don't see how," Dr. Edward Leis said when asked if her injuries could have been accidental.
Just short of three years to the day that Kasprzak's body was found in the Jordan River, the preliminary hearing for the teenager accused of beating her to death began Monday.
Police say the boy was just 14 when he brutally killed his girlfriend. On Monday, a seven-day hearing began to determine two things: whether there is enough evidence for a judge to order him to stand trial, and whether that trial should be in juvenile court or adult court.
Third District Juvenile Judge Dane Nolan's small courtroom was packed with friends and family members of both Kasprzak and the now-17-year-old, whom the Deseret News has chosen not to name at this time. The boyfriend, with his hands shackled, listened closely to the testimony from witnesses, took notes and frequently whispered things to his attorneys.
Leis gave graphic testimony about the numerous skull fractures that were likely caused by multiple blows with "significant force" to Kasprzak's face and head. He believes that the injuries she suffered to her head were not survivable, even if her body had not ended up in the Jordan River.
Because of water found in her lungs, Leis said he could not discount the possibility that Kasprzak was still alive when she went into the water. But he said she likely would have been unconscious at that point and "barely" alive.
Outside the courtroom Monday, Dennis Kasprzak said it was difficult to hear the details about his daughter's death and relive the incident.
"Hearing the descriptions, even though I work the medical field and I've seen lots of trauma, it's definitely rough," he said.
James Bratcher testified Monday that he last saw his stepdaughter about 8 p.m. on March 10, 2012. A short time later, Anne Kasprzak could not be found.
As Bratcher searched her room, he found a note she had written and left under her bed sheets. The note said that she had lied to her friends and told them she was pregnant and that she was headed to California, he said.
Bratcher said he and the girl's natural parents had given her a pregnancy test after they found out she had had sex with the defendant. The tests were negative. Bratcher said he also found additional pregnancy tests hidden in his stepdaughter's room that she apparently took on her own. They, too, were all negative, he said.
Leis said his autopsy also showed Kasprzak was not pregnant at the time of her death.
Kasprzak's journal was also found. In it, there is an entry from March 1, 2012, that says: "(Defendant) finds out."
Kasprzak disappeared on a Saturday night. Her body was found the next day. Several of Kasprzak's friends testified that as late as Friday afternoon at school, she was telling them that she was pregnant, possibly with the boyfriend's child, and that the two were going to run away to California and get married.
During cross-examination, Bratcher talked about Kasprzak's brief stays at the Utah State Hospital and at a group home.
"She would have outbursts of defiance, I guess you would say. Nothing serious," he said, clarifying that they were "typical teenage arguments."
"She was not violent. She was more defiant," he said.
Crime scene evidence
Alyssa McElreath, a crime scene evidence technician for the Draper Police Department, pointed out blood spatter evidence collected by a bridge on the Jordan Parkway near 12300 South. She noted that blood was found near the bridge entrance, off to the side and down an embankment where a larger pool of blood was found on a large rock below. Kasprzak's red shoe was found nearby.
A police helicopter found Kasprzak's body a short time later in the water between 12300 South and 11400 South.
Within the first couple of days, a search warrant was served on the 14-year-old boy's house. A ripped up note was found in his trash can. Investigators also took his shoes. Police say when they came to the defendant's house, he was wearing a brand new pair of shoes. When they asked for his old shoes, he was initially hesitant, two officers testified Monday.
When he eventually handed them over at the prodding of his father, McElreath said the teen told them that they may find Kasprzak's blood on them because she recently had a bloody nose and some of that may have gotten on his shoes.
But when McElreath tested the room where Kasprzak allegedly got her bloody nose, nothing was found, she testified.
Suspicious text messages
Draper police officer Walter Deutsch conducted some of the interviews with the defendant shortly after Kasprzak's body was found and retrieved some of his deleted tweets from his phone and a friend's phone.
The teen told Deutsch that he was at his grandmother's on the night Kasprzak disappeared and that she had called him three times asking him to run away with her. He told the police that he told her it was a bad idea, Deutsch said.
They took my shoes for testing. I need you to tell (police about a bloody nose) so I don't get blamed. Because if you don't, they will accuse me.
–Text message from suspect to friend
The text messages also referred a bloody nose. In deleted texts recovered on the phone of the defendant's friend, the boyfriend told the friend, "They took my shoes for testing. I need you to tell (police about a bloody nose) so I don't get blamed. Because if you don't, they will accuse me." That was followed shortly by a text that said, "Just please say that."
But during cross examination, defense attorney Chris Bown pointed out that police had not recovered the entire text message from the friend's phone. From the defendant's phone, there was a message sent to the friend that read, "I'm not telling you to lie to the cops 'cause that is not something you do." The defendant told his friend that he thought his friend was "dozing off" that night so he wanted to remind him about the bloody nose.
The defendant also texted to his friend, "I want to know who did this and why," referring to Kasprzak's death.
An odd discussion came up when the boyfriend told police about a 17-year-old boy known as "LJ" who allegedly had threatened himself and Kasprzak. He claimed LJ was another boy Kasprzak had seen, that they met on the Jordan Parkway and that he was abusive toward her.
But Deutsch testified Monday that to this day, no one other than the defendant has ever been able to verify that LJ exists.
The first suspect
Prosecutors also addressed in court Monday the issue surrounding Daniel Robert Lehi Ferry, a man who was originally arrested in connection with Kasprzak's death. Even though the boyfriend was a suspect almost immediately, a woman named JoAnne Franklin stepped forward claiming that she had information about the killing and said Ferry was responsible.
Franklin testified Monday that she was a heavy drug addict at that time and was afraid of both Ferry and going to prison. She said she "tweaked" another incident involving Ferry and told police it involved Kasprzak, then continued to lie to police in each additional interview.
The teen is charged in juvenile court with murder, a first-degree felony, and obstructing justice, a second-degree felony. Bown said his client is not the killer.
"At this point, in terms of looking at the evidence, we don't believe that he's the person who committed this. We are going to profess his innocence at this point," he said.
Contributing: Sandra Yi