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OREM — Plea negotiations have been ongoing for several weeks for a 16-year-old accused of stabbing five classmates at Mountain View High School, prosecutors said in court Wednesday.
Deputy Utah County attorney Sam Pead told the judge that efforts are being made to reach a resolution in the case and asked to continue working toward a deal until the teen's next hearing, scheduled for April 4.
As negotiations are ongoing, the boy will remain in juvenile detention where probation officers say he is doing well.
If a resolution cannot be reached, Pead said that certifying the case to be moved to district court, where the teen would faces the charges against him as an adult, "would be our goal if we get to that point."
He declined to say whether talks of keeping the case in juvenile court have been part of plea negotiations.
The 16-year-old, whom KSL has chosen not to identify at this time, is charged with fives counts of attempted murder, a first-degree felony; failing to stop at the command of a law enforcer, a class A misdemeanor; and possession of a dangerous weapon with intent to assault, a class A misdemeanor.
No determination regarding the teen's competency has been presented in court. Following the brief hearing Wednesday, Pead said those considerations are being included in discussions about resolving the case.
"Both sides have been working really hard at trying to find a resolution that appropriately balances the need for justice in this case along with recognition of the minor's status as a minor, so we're trying to find if there's some middle ground there," Pead said. "We think we're potentially close to that, but we'll see what happens in a few weeks."
Both sides have been working really hard at trying to find a resolution that appropriately balances the need for justice ... along with recognition of the minor's status as a minor.
–Sam Pead, deputy Utah County attorney
A competency evaluation has been completed, Pead said, but 4th District Juvenile Judge Douglas Nielsen has not yet made a determination on whether the 16-year-old is capable of understanding the charges against him and participating in his own defense.
"I think that issue would be resolved if we have a general resolution in the case," Pead said.
Expecting there to be "a lot of blood," the 16-year-old dressed in red and went to the boys locker room on Nov. 15, suddenly stabbing five classmates at random, charging documents state.
The boy then stabbed himself in the neck as school staff moved in on him. He and the five boys who were injured all survived. Mountain View High School Principal Taran Chun said many credit divine intervention for helping the boys survive, and that all five victims have said they forgive the 16-year-old.
Prior to the incident, school district officials said the teen was a straight-A student and had no prior disciplinary issues. The boy had been home-schooled and enrolled at Mountain View in August, according to the district.
The boy has been in custody in a juvenile facility since his arrest.