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Judge grants more time to prepare teen to face murder, rape charges in girl's death

Deseret News, File

Judge grants more time to prepare teen to face murder, rape charges in girl's death

By McKenzie Romero | Posted - Jul. 14, 2017 at 7:39 a.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — A teenage boy accused of raping and killing his 12-year-old neighbor needs more time and treatment before being ready to face the charges in court, a juvenile judge agreed Thursday.

While the now-17-year-old boy has made "significant progress" toward being able to understand information about the case and court proceedings, there are still deficits in his ability to apply what he has learned, according to a representative from the Department of Human Services.

Prosecutors, however, disagreed and called for the case to proceed, saying the teen has scored high in all 10 of the educational modules he was required to complete to prepare him to face the charges against him.

Third District Juvenile Judge James Michie granted the department 30 days for additional counseling — rather than the 60 days that had been requested — and called for evaluations to be completed quickly so additional hearings may be scheduled.

"This has been going on for two years, and it needs resolution," Michie said Thursday, specifying that he was referring not only to the girl's family and the public, but also to the teenage boy.

The boy is charged in juvenile court with first-degree felony counts of aggravated murder and rape of a child in the case of Kailey Vijil. He was 15 years old at the time.

Police say the boy went to Kailey's door late at night July 17, 2015, and asked her to help him look for a lost cat. Her body was discovered by searchers about three hours later in a horse pasture near her home.

A search warrant revealed 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.

A medical examiner determined Kailey died of strangulation.

KSL has chosen not to name the boy at this time.

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At the conclusion of a closed four-day hearing in December, Michie declared that the teen, who suffers from multiple mental disorders and has limited cognitive abilities, was incapable of understanding the allegations against him, adequately communicating with his attorneys or comprehending the judicial process.

However, the judge said at the time there were indications the boy could be restored to competency.

The teen's attorneys have said since his initial court appearance that they don't believe he understands what is happening in the case.

Prosecutor Thaddeus May argued Thursday that following the December hearing, Michie ordered that the teen complete the 10 modules, receive treatment and receive medication, all of which has been done.

"There is no evidence before the state whatsoever that he isn't attained and present," May told the judge. "I think we're ready for a hearing."

However, while the teen has achieved high scores on all the assigned modules, Michie agreed that any concerns about whether he can rationally apply what he has learned must be addressed.

"If we need help in the rational piece, we'd better get it," Michie said.

Prosecutors have said they will seek to have the teen certified to face the charges as an adult. However, that question can't be addressed until the boy is found competent for the case to proceed.

The teen will return to court Sept. 22 for a scheduling hearing.

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McKenzie Romero

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