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SALT LAKE CITY — An 18-year-old boy facing charges for a car crash that killed two of his friends after prom agreed Friday to have his case transferred to the adult system, where he is expected to take a plea deal.
Gage Moore, 18, waived an evidence hearing Friday in Monticello and agreed to have his case transferred from the juvenile system in order to spare the families of the victims and his own family a series of painful hearings, according to his attorney, Walter Bugden.
As the case moves forward, Moore is prepared to accept responsibility for the crash that killed two of his friends and injured two others, his attorney said.
"He feels terrible, he feels personally responsible for this terrible tragedy," Bugden said. "This is very hard for Mr. Moore, he recognizes this is his fault."
Moore was driving early on the morning of March 5, just hours after Grand County High School's prom, when his vehicle rolled several times just south of Ken's Lake on La Sal Loop Road after taking a turn too fast, police said. Three of the five occupants were ejected.
Taylor Bryant, 14, and Connor Denney, 16, were pronounced dead at the scene after being ejected. Daniel McCrary, 17, was also ejected and taken by medical helicopter to a hospital in critical condition. Tierney DeMille, 14, was also seriously injured.
Two search warrant affidavits filed earlier this year revealed Moore was believed to have been driving more than 80 mph in a 40 mph zone, and that first responders at the scene of the crash could smell alcohol on Moore.
Police said Moore had been drinking at a party, and while the five teens hadn't been together that night, they all ultimately ended up in Moore's vehicle. DeMille and McCrary had not been drinking, according to police.
Moore is scheduled to appear Aug. 14 before 7th District Judge Lyle Moore, where Bugden said the 18-year-old will plead guilty to two counts of automobile homicide, a second-degree felony, and two counts of reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor.
In exchange, additional charges against Moore will be dismissed. In addition to the automobile homicide charges, Moore was originally charged with two counts of DUI resulting in serious injury, a third-degree felony; and reckless driving and possession of alcohol by a minor, class B misdemeanors.
A separate case against Moore alleging sex abuse of a child, a second-degree felony, and lewdness involving a child, a class A misdemeanor, were also dismissed as part of the plea deal. Details about what those charges stem from have not been released.
No sentencing agreements were made as part of the deal. Bugden said psychological and risk evaluations that have been done for Moore will be presented to the judge before the sentencing hearing, which anticipates will recommend "some punishment but not prison."