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WEST JORDAN — Two people accused of luring a teen to a West Jordan recreation center on Christmas Eve under the guise of joining their gang, and then shooting and killing the boy, have been charged in connection with the boy's death.
Jedediah Zane Newsome, 18, and Coda Benjamin Verucchi, 17, both of West Jordan, were each charged Tuesday in 3rd District Court with murder and two counts of discharge of a firearm causing serious injuries, both first-degree felonies; and being a restricted person in possession of a firearm, a second-degree felony.
Newsome received an additional charge of obstructing justice, a second-degree felony. Verucchi, who will turn 18 in a week, was charged as an adult.
On Christmas Day, just before noon, West Jordan police were called to the parking lot of the Gene Fullmer Fitness and Recreation Center, 8015 S. 2200 West, on a welfare check, according to charging documents. The body of 16-year-old Kenneth Gant, of West Jordan, was found behind a storage container.
Kenneth had at least two visible gunshot wounds and three shell bullet casings were found next to him, the charges state. An autopsy later determined that Kenneth was shot four times, according to the charges.
On Dec. 27, West Valley police called investigators in West Jordan to inform them that Newsome and Verucchi had been arrested in their jurisdiction for allegedly stealing a car at gunpoint from a driveway, according to the charges. After being arrested, Newsome told police about the killing in West Jordan, the charges state.
When West Jordan detectives interviewed Newsome, he told them that he believed Kenneth was a rival gang member "but was trying to 'get put on'" — or join — Newsome's gang, according to the charges.
"Newsome said that he was texting (Kenneth) and told him to meet him at the library and they could talk about 'getting him in put on,'" the charges state. "They talked to (Kenneth) about joining the gang and Newsome told him to think about it for the night."
Newsome claimed he was walking away when he heard two shots, ran back to where Kenneth and Verucchi were still at, took the gun from Verucchi and shot Kenneth twice, charging documents state.
He then threw the gun — which he had recently stolen during a car burglary – into a nearby canal, the charges state.
Newsome and Verucchi returned to the rec center the next day and saw the large police presence who had by that time discovered Kenneth's body. They then stole a car in West Valley, according to police, which lead to both a car and foot chase with officers who eventually found the two hiding in a backyard and arrested them. On Dec. 28, Newsome was charged with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony; possession of a weapon by a restricted person, a second-degree felony; and failing to stop for police, a class A misdemeanor, in connection with the stolen car.
Newsome also told police he had recently run away from a Juvenile Justice Program and was under the supervision of the 4th District Juvenile Court at the time of his arrest. Both Newsome and Verucchi have been charged in the past with violent crimes in juvenile court, according to their charges.