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SALT LAKE CITY — A 15-year-old charged with luring his 12-year-old neighbor from her home and killing her now faces an additional charge of rape.
The teen sat motionless Thursday as 3rd District Juvenile Judge Jim Michie explained that a new charge, first-degree felony rape of a child, had been filed since the last time he appeared in court. The judge also told the teen that prosecutors are asking that both charges be transferred to district court so that he may be tried as an adult.
The judge held out his arms as an example of the range of possible penalties if the boy were to be convicted in juvenile court. He stretched his arms out further, fully extending them, as he explained that the range of penalties would be even greater in adult court.
"I have many things to evaluate before I make the decision," Michie said, asking the teen to respond out loud if he understood.
The boy, who sat in shackles and a baggy green sweatshirt, responded with a quiet "yes."
Michie also indicated at the beginning of the hearing that the boy had asked why he had to be restrained in the courtroom.
"Because of the serious nature of the charges, that's why I have ordered you be restrained," Michie told the boy.
KSL News has chosen not to name the 15-year-old at this time.
The teen is charged with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, in the death of 12-year-old Kailey Vijil, accused of asking the girl to come help him search for his cat late one night in late one night in July before sexually assaulting and killing her. Kailey's body was found about three hours later in a horse pasture near her West Valley home.
A search warrant revealed that the young girl was found naked, her Batman pajamas strewn on the ground near her body, and a shirt wrapped around her neck. Evidence on her body, including blood and fresh scratches, signaled a possible sexual assault, police wrote.
Amended charges filed earlier this month and released Thursday indicate that DNA evidence on Kailey's body matched the teen. The boy later told police that he was in the field with Kailey during the time she was missing. Prosecutors did not elaborate on the delay in filing the rape charge.
A medical examiner determined Kailey died of strangulation.
Police and neighbors said the boy had attempted to lure other young girls out of their homes before he knocked on Kailey's door.
Defense attorneys on Thursday asked for more time to prepare before scheduling a certification hearing, where a decision will be made whether to keep the boy in juvenile court or transfer the case to district court.
They are also considering a request for a competency evaluation, they noted, which would precede the certification process and would examine the boy's mental and emotional capacity as well as his upbringing and history.
It's an information gathering process between now and the time of the certification, and we want as much information as we can get.
–prosecutor Patricia Cassell
For example, attorneys are aware of records of possible ADHD in the teen's history, defense attorney Michael Sikora noted, "but it could be more complicated than that."
The attorneys indicated at a hearing last month that they don't believe the teen understands what's happening during the court proceedings, but did not explain further.
Prosecutors did not oppose the extension, and both sides agreed to meet again for a scheduling hearing on Oct. 15.
"It's an information gathering process between now and the time of the certification, and we want as much information as we can get," prosecutor Patricia Cassell said.
The teenager had previously been referred to juvenile court three times for misdemeanors and infractions in the past 10 months, according to court records. He was arrested for investigation of possession of drug paraphernalia in October of 2014, theft in February, and burglary nine days after his theft arrest.
He was first placed in Salt Lake Juvenile Detention in February and spent 32 days there, according to court records. The boy was placed in an "observation and assessment facility" on May 26. He spent 44 days there before he was released and placed on probation July 9, about a week before Kailey was killed.