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PROVO — A teenager was sentenced in connection with the murder of a 16-year-old Lindon boy in August, while another pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter.
On Nov. 21, Judge D. Scott Davis ordered the first teen, a 17-year-old, to remain in state Juvenile Justice and Youth Services custody in secure confinement until he is 25 years old. The judge found that removing the teen from his home and keeping him in custody was in the minor's best interest.
The teen was charged with murder and aggravated robbery, first-degree felonies, along with four other 16- and 17-year-old boys. He admitted to the allegations against him during a hearing on Oct. 3. Davis ordered the 17-year-old not to have any contact with the victim's family, to pay $10,000 in restitution, and to complete 100 community service hours. This teenager did not have any prior criminal history.
The second teen, who was 17 at the time of the crimes but has since turned 18, pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter, aggravated robbery, marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia possession. In exchange, prosecutors reduced the initial murder charge to manslaughter and dropped a joyriding charge. They also agreed to not pursue the matter again when the teen turns 25.
Defense attorney Neil Skousen said he and his client considered the plea deal "long and hard" and ultimately decided "we are taking the high road with hat in hand and want to resolve the case today for the benefit of not only (my client), but also for the victim's family. We want to move forward and make this right."
Skousen said prosecutors also had the choice to file this case in juvenile or adult court, and they made the "very difficult" decision to file it in juvenile court.
The teen's next court appearance, a two-hour disposition hearing, is scheduled for Jan. 9, and Skousen said he and the teen will have "a lot more to say" at that time.
According to charging documents, on Aug. 1, five juveniles arranged to meet Gavin Hone, 16, at the pavilion at the Lindon View Murdock Canal Trailhead around 2 a.m. to sell him marijuana vape cartridges, when a fight broke out.
The documents said the teens had planned to rob Hone in order to pay a debt that another boy owed and planned to keep the marijuana cartridges. When Hone handed his money through a car window, a teenager pointed a gun at him, and others in the car began punching him.
As the driver of the car accelerated away, Hone fell from the car. The back of his head hit the road and he was run over by the rear tire, according to investigators.
A friend of Hone's told police he watched as the boys in the Tahoe "pulled the victim through the window into their SUV and started to assault him," court documents state. The friend told police the SUV dragged Hone "a ways" until he fell out of the window and landed on the street, knocking him unconscious.
Hone was taken to the hospital where he later died.
During Monday's proceedings, the second teen said Aug. 1 was a "terrible night" and if he could go back and change it, he "totally would."
While hanging out with friends, "we got stupid and reckless, and we went to a drug deal," the teen said. When Gavin came to the car window and the fight broke out, "everyone" was screaming at him to drive, he said.
"So without thinking, I just put it in drive and started driving the car," the teen said. "I didn't know that someone was hanging onto the car. ... I really wish that I could go back and change what happened, and I'm sorry."
A family member of Gavin's also briefly addressed the court, saying with audible emotion that she's mostly just "heartbroken" over the situation.
The juvenile court system in Utah is based on community protection, youth accountability and competency development. A judge is not bound to any sentences in juvenile court as they are in district court.
"The system values uniformity while, at the same time, ensuring that the juvenile court has the ability and flexibility to tailor dispositions that best serve the needs of the community, victims, and the individual youth," court guidelines state.
One 16-year-old has also already pleaded guilty. He had a previous criminal mischief charge and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 10. The other two teens have not yet entered pleas.
One of the other teenagers has multiple previous criminal charges, including possession of drugs and firearms and aggravated assault and robbery — his case is waiting for a decision on dates for a jury trial.