Spencer Ricks, St. George News, File

Teen accused of bringing backpack bomb to school admits to reduced charge

By Annie Knox, KSL | Posted - Mar. 6, 2019 at 7:34 p.m.

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ST. GEORGE — A southern Utah teenager accused of bringing a homemade backpack bomb to school has admitted to reduced charges.

Martin Farnsworth, 17, pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempting to cause injury or commit a felony with an incendiary device, a first-degree felony.

The guilty plea comes a week ahead of a planned trial for Farnsworth, who originally faced charges of attempted murder and using a weapon of mass destruction, both first-degree felonies.

St. George's Pine View High School was evacuated on March 5, 2018, when investigators say students discovered the smoking backpack that Farnsworth had left near a vending machine. No injuries were reported.

A juvenile judge ordered Farnsworth to face the charges as an adult in July, citing the seriousness of the allegations.

The boy's attorney, Edward Flint, has argued the initial charges were overblown, saying that his client has been bullied and has autism spectrum disorder. He noted the backpack — which contained shotgun powder, pellets, petroleum and matches — could have sparked a fire but would not have exploded, according to a bomb expert's testimony. But prosecutors said the teen had a plan to kill people.

In a separate juvenile court proceeding, the teen was ordered to probation and to pay restitution after he admitted to painting "ISIS is comi--" on a Hurricane High School wall in April 2018. A second juvenile misdemeanor count was dismissed.

Farnsworth is scheduled to be sentenced on April 17.

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