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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- Authorities filed a murder charge Thursday against a 14-year-old boy in the death of a girl and said they want to prosecute him as an adult, a request that could put the teen in prison for life if convicted.
Keely Hall, 15, was found strangled on Jan. 10 in Dixie Downs Park. In addition to a count of first-degree murder, Washington County prosecutors also charged the boy with rape and aggravated sexual assault.
Fifth District Juvenile Court Judge Thomas Higbee has much flexibility in deciding whether to send the case to District Court, where the boy would be handled as an adult.
The factors are many and include the seriousness of the crime, public safety and the defendant's maturity. Higbee set a hearing for March 7, six days after the boy turns 15.
"The amount of weight given to each (factor) is under the discretion of the court. The court doesn't have to give equal weight," said Ryan Shaum, deputy county attorney.
Shaum declined to elaborate on why his office wants the boy prosecuted as an adult. If convicted in District Court, he would face 15 years to life in prison.
"The charges speak for themselves," Shaum said.
The boy's attorney, Kenneth Combs, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Police said Keely met the boy through two other boys on the night she was killed. The two boys left, and she was alone with the 14-year-old, police said.
There was "definitely a struggle," police Capt. Barry Golding said last week.
The boy was arrested just hours after Keely's body was found and remains in a juvenile detention center.
Higbee barred news media from publishing or broadcasting the boy's name, Shaum said.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)