Gang Related Shooting of Teenager at Liberty Park

A Utah teenager was sent to the hospital with a bullet wound in his chest from what is believed to be a gang related shooting at Liberty Park.

Accidental run-in

Photo by: RONg
Photo by: RONg

The 16 year old victim was at Liberty Park with a girl when three boys believed to be 14 years old stopped and confronted them. Some heated words were exchanged followed by one of the 14 year olds shooting the victim in the chest. This gang related shooting doesn’t appear to be a planned meeting, just a chance encounter between members of different gangs.

Young victim and younger suspects

Both the victim and the suspects of the gang related shooting were minors, most of who were not even old enough to carry a drivers’ license. At an age when most kids are barely starting high school, what gang ties could these teenagers possibly have?

Why kids join gangs

There are several reasons why young teenagers join gangs.

• Older siblings already gang members. Not everything handed down is harmless. Following the lead or even being initiated by an older sibling is sometimes a reason for joining a gang.

• To fit in or have friends. Teenage years are a tough age that can turn kids towards any group that will openly accept them. Gangs may also offer protection to teens who live in high crime areas.

• Fun or boredom fixer. Gangs are glorified by movies and TV which show gang life as being exciting and rewarding while doing whatever you want at the expense of others.

• By force. Teenagers don’t always willingly join gangs. Sometimes they are forced or threatened to join a certain gang or to pick a side between multiple rivals.

Warning signs of gang activity

Parents need to be aware of the warning signs of potential gang activity such as: wearing gang colors, knowing signs, drug use, withdrawing from family, and having large amounts of money. Intervening early can protect teenagers from becoming the victim or the suspect in gang related shootings. For information on criminal charges for teenage gang members, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Photo by: Samantha Jade Royds
Photo by: Samantha Jade Royds

Mental Competency Hearing Set for Utah Teen Murder Case

canfield mental competency hearing
Photo: Washington County Sheriff’s Office/St. George News

According to a report in The Spectrum of St. George, Fifth District Court Judge John Walton has set a mental competency hearing for January 30, 2015, in the case of Joshua David Canfield, the teenager in Toquerville, Utah, accused of murdering his 58-year-old-neighbor. On Thursday, Dec. 18, Walton said that two separate forensic psychiatrists had filed conflicting reports on Canfield’s mental competency.

Details of the Case

In March of this year, Toquerville deputies connected the dots between a home burglary of firearms and collectable coins, an attempted illegal purchase using the coins for gas for a stolen car belonging to 58-year-old Geraldine Bommarito, and the murder of Bommarito. On March 19, Canfield was arrested for all of these crimes. According to the Washington County Sheriff’s report, when Canfield was taken into custody, he was “belligerent and combative.” He was put under suicide watch after trying to harm himself twice.

Canfield is currently facing nine felony charges and three misdemeanors for murder, armed robbery, arson, drug possession, and assault on a police officer. Canfield was 17 years old when he was arrested, however, given the nature of the crimes, he is being tried as an adult.

A Question of Canfield’s Mental Competency

Canfield’s attorney, Edward Flint, said since Canfield’s arrest, he has spent time in isolation at the jail. In August, after observations and communications with Canfield, Flint’s partner Aric Cramer wrote to the court questioning Canfield’s mental competency to stand trial.

However, it was a surprise to all parties concerned—including the prosecution—that Canfield had been evaluated twice. The first doctor reported that Canfield was competent, however, the second doctor reported that he lacked the mental competency to stand trial.

Neither Flint nor Deputy County Attorney Zachary Weiland knew about the second doctor until the court appearance on Dec. 18. Flint also expressed dissatisfaction that the process was taking so long, citing other mental competency cases that had come up since Canfield’s and which had already been resolved.

Even given these complaints and the fact that neither attorney expected the court to bring in a third doctor as a “tie-breaker,” the defense has also hired a separate adolescent neuropsychologist for an evaluation before the hearing at the end of January.

Juvenile Arrested for Vehicle Theft After Attempting to Flee

Juvenile Vehicle Theft
Photo: ChefKeem

On Wednesday, Dec. 3, a juvenile in Sandy attempted to flee police in a stolen vehicle. He has been booked for investigation of vehicle theft and operating a vehicle without a license.

All Sorts of Bad Choices

According to a report from KSL News, shortly after midnight on Wednesday morning, a Sandy police officer discovered someone driving a vehicle that had been missing from West Jordan since Thanksgiving. The officer called for backup and followed from a distance.

When the driver of the vehicle seemed to discover that he was being followed, he attempted to flee and made at least his third bad decision since choosing to drive a stolen vehicle without his license and then fleeing from police. He pulled into a dead-end street. The driver got out of the vehicle and attempted to run, but the officer caught him.

According to Sandy Police Sgt. Dean Carriger, “Once in custody, they found the driver was a 14-year-old male juvenile. He was the only occupant in the vehicle.

Police didn’t know at the time of booking if the boy was the one who stole the vehicle or if he got it from somewhere else.

Vehicle Theft Could be Tried as an Adult

According to Utah Criminal Code 76-6-412, vehicle theft is considered an offense against property. In the case of vehicle theft, it is punishable as a second degree felony under the classification of “firearm or operable motor vehicle.”

If an adult is convicted of a second degree felony, they could be punished by up to fifteen years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Because vehicle theft is considered a felony if committed by an adult, there is a possibility that a prosecutor could seek to have the juvenile tried as an adult. However, this is highly unlikely given the age of the boy and the fact that these attempts by prosecutors are usually reserved for more violent offenses or instances of juveniles with extensive criminal histories.

However, vehicle theft is still a very serious crime. If your child has been charged with vehicle theft, make sure to contact an experience juvenile defense attorney who will look out for their best interests.

Juvenile Arrested for Vehicle Theft and Failure to Stop

juvenile arrested vehicle theft
Photo: IFCAR/Wikimedia Commons

In what seems to have been a collaborate effort, a man and teen were arrested Thursday, Oct. 23. The man was arrested for vehicle theft, and the teen will most likely be charged with vehicle theft and failure to stop at the command of a law officer.

Now It’s Your Turn

According to a report from KSL News, the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a vehicle theft on Thursday morning. According to the report, after driving to work, the owner of a white Cadillac Escalade noticed a Ford pickup (which also turned out to be stolen) pull up next his Cadillac and a teen exit the unfamiliar vehicle. Next thing the owner of the Escalade knew, the teen got into the vehicle and drove away.

The owner of the Escalade called the police, and aided by the accounts of witnesses who saw the vehicles heading south on I-15, police gave chase with the assistance of the Utah Highway Patrol. Law enforcement lost track of the Ford but were able to find the Escalade. However, the juvenile refused to stop, and it took UHP troopers two attempts at spiking the road before the Escalade’s tires were deflated near Parowan. The juvenile was taken to the Iron County Detention Center.

In what didn’t seem like the smartest move, the driver of the Ford pickup truck passed the officers on his way south on I-15. He was arrested and booked into the Beaver County Correctional Facility on charges of vehicle theft.

Potential Adult Charges for Vehicle Theft

In most situations, juveniles charged with a crime will be sentenced in juvenile court, although sometimes the prosecution may attempt to have the juvenile charged as an adult. One of the factors considered in making this decision is whether the juvenile has an extensive criminal background, something which is currently unknown about the juvenile in question. Charges of murder or aggravated murder are also usually sufficient to bring about adult charges but obviously aren’t an issue here.

The factor that may contribute to the juvenile being charged as an adult is the fact that he committed a crime that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult. While failure to stop at the command of a law officer is only a class A misdemeanor (still the most serious of misdemeanor offenses), vehicle theft is considered a second degree felony according to Utah law.

Only time will tell what will happen with this juvenile. However, if your child has been charged with vehicle theft or any other crime, even if there is no threat of them being tried as adult, don’t let time be your enemy. Contact an experienced, sympathetic juvenile defense attorney who will start working on your child’s case immediately.

Juveniles May Face Adult Burglary Charges in Utah School Burglary

Potential Adult Burglary Charges
Photo: Michael Coghlan

Three juveniles were arrested last week and one is still being sought in connection with a burglary at Logan High School on August 14. In addition to burglary charges, the juveniles could also face charges of criminal mischief.

Smile for the Camera

According to a report from KSL, Logan Police Capt. Tyson Budge stated that the burglary at Logan High School occurred at approximately 12 a.m. on August 14. The main lobby of the building was open as a result of the school being under construction. Four teens entered the school and stole thousands of dollars of computer equipment. In addition, Budge reported that the teens also discharged fire extinguishers in the school, causing additional damage with could rank in the thousands of dollars as well, possibly resulting in criminal mischief charges.

Fortunately for law enforcement, while the school may have still been under construction, surveillance cameras were in operation at the time. Logan Police posted the surveillance videos to their Facebook page on August 15, and within a week, all of the juveniles had been identified by tips from community members and three of them had been taken into custody. The fourth individual has also been identified but is still being sought in connection with the crime.

Potential Adult Burglary Charges

There are several reasons a juvenile may be charged as an adult. In the case of these four teenagers (ranging in age from 15 to 17 years old), the factors that could contribute to this type of prosecution are the fact that they all have extensive criminal histories (one of the juveniles was actually already on probation) and the fact that they committed a crime which would be considered a felony if committed by an adult.

In this case, according to Utah Code 76-6-202, burglary occurred because the juveniles entered or remained unlawfully in a building with intent to commit a theft. If convicted, burglary is considered a third degree felony.

This case serves to underscore the importance of an experienced juvenile defense attorney. If your child is in trouble with the law and this isn’t their first time, don’t leave their fate in the hands of a public defender. Consult with a trusted, compassionate juvenile defense attorney who has your child’s best interest in mind.