LOGAN, Utah — A teenager accused of encouraging a plot to kill a 14-year-old girl who was left in a ditch with a gunshot to her head pleaded guilty on Tuesday.
Jayzon Decker, 17, faces up to life in prison after entering the pleas to attempted aggravated murder and felony obstruction of justice in an agreement with prosecutors.
Prosecutors said he and friend Colter D. Peterson concocted the plan in February while playing video games and discussing their desire to “get rid” of victim Deserae Turner, who was texting Peterson. She was left for dead in a ditch, and her injuries still leave her struggling to eat and walk, her family has said.
Turner attended the hearing and cried quietly as Cache County Attorney James Swink described her partial paralysis and daily headaches from the bullet still lodged in her skull, the Deseret News reported.
The Associated Press does not typically name juvenile defendants, but the teens were ordered to face charges as adults.
Prosecutors dropped attempted robbery and additional obstruction of justice counts in exchange for the pleas.
Defense attorney Shannon Demler said that while Decker didn’t shoot the girl, he decided to take responsibility for his role.
“He has had a lot of time to think about it. He obviously wishes he could take what happened back, but he knows that he can’t and he needs to move on,” he said, according to the Deseret News.
Decker said little as he entered his pleas in a quiet voice. He is set to be sentenced Feb. 7.
The boys, then both 16, lured Turner to a dry canal in the small northern Utah town of Smithfield, about 90 miles north of Salt Lake City, by promising to sell her a knife, authorities said.
They’d originally planned to stab her, but Peterson shot her instead and then left her for dead in a ditch, prosecutors said. Decker was accused of keeping the bullet as a memento.
She was found alive after an overnight search and was hospitalized for two months.
Peterson pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated murder and robbery in October.