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Probation ordered for teen tied to 2 friends' opioid deaths

By Annie Knox, KSL | Updated - Apr. 19, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. | Posted - Apr. 19, 2019 at 11:37 a.m.

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PARK CITY — A Park City teenager linked to the fatal overdoses of her two friends admitted Friday to reduced criminal charges as part of a deal that allows her to chip away at community service and probation as she prepares to leave for college in the fall.

Before sentencing the 17-year-old, 3rd District Juvenile Judge Elizabeth Knight called the girl "incredibly bright," but said she has allowed men and boys to manipulate her.

"Even in your interview by law enforcement, what I noticed is you know what you need to do, but you get pressured and want to please," the judge told her. "And in every instance, it's been males, in wanting to please them and give them what they're asking you to do. You've made really bad choices, right? That's a really hard thing to learn, of how to be independent and strong."

The teen pleaded guilty Friday to reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor, agreeing that she secretly received a package of drugs in 2016. Police said two of her friends had asked to have the shipment of the opioid "pink," or U-47700, shipped to her home so their parents wouldn't see them. Grant Seaver and Ryan Ainsworth, both 13, later overdosed and died after taking the drug in September 2016.

Investigators said the teen told them her friends had taught her to order drugs on the darknet — hidden networks often used for illegal ends — and that she had used Bitcoin to buy them.

In addition to the first charge, the teen admitted to trying to receive a package of the drug MDMA, or ecstasy, at the McDonald's in Park City in June 2018. Prosecutors said she was meeting a man who had agreed to accept shipments of e-cigarette refills for her, but the U.S. Postal Service intercepted the package. She pleaded guilty to attempted drug distribution, a class A misdemeanor.

Federal agents arrested her at the McDonald's and brought her to the Summit County Sheriff's Office, where the girl began sobbing and told federal agents what happened, the officers testified during earlier hearings.

The teen, whom KSL has elected not to name at this time, did not speak Friday except to reply "yes, your honor" at times.

"I hope in the future you will really think about doing things that are best for you," Knight told her.

The teen's trial had been set to begin Friday in juvenile court, where she was originally charged with four counts of drug distribution, a second-degree felony. The allegations stemmed from the June shipment and three others that authorities said they intercepted last year. Instead of a trial, prosecutors reduced the charges and the teen immediately entered guilty pleas.

She has been accepted to several colleges and universities, including several out of state, her attorney Mary Corporon said.

The judge ordered a substance abuse evaluation and acknowledged the teen has already spent several months in treatment. She also ordered six months of probation, plus 36 hours of community service, the maximum possible in the juvenile system.

The parents of the two boys who died are suing one another in a separate civil case, alleging the others knew or should have known the children were receiving drugs before their deaths.

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