Child Abuse Homicide Charges Likely For Teen Babysitter in Utah

A 16 year old Utah teen accused of shaking a baby in his care could be facing child abuse homicide charges after the infant died following being taken off life support.

In his care

Photo by: Morgan

The teenager, who is unnamed due to his age was taking care of the 5 month old baby girl and her two year old brother at their home in West Valley City when the baby stopped breathing. The infant was rushed to the hospital where it was determined that she had been shaken by the teenage babysitter. The baby was taken off life support after it was determined her injuries were too severe. She then sadly passed away.

Child abuse homicide

Authorities said the boy was being held on child abuse charges pending a potential change to homicide if the baby ended up not making it. Now that she has died, the charged against the boy could be enhanced to child abuse homicide. Utah Code 76-5-208 states “Criminal homicide constitutes child abuse homicide if, under circumstances not amounting to aggravated murder . . . the actor causes the death of a person under 18 years of age and the death results from child abuse,
(a) if the child abuse is done recklessly. . . [it is a first degree felony];
(b) if the child abuse is done with criminal negligence . . .[it is a second degree felony]:
(c) if, under circumstances not amounting to the type of child abuse homicide described in Subsection [A], the child   abuse is done intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence . . . .[it is also a second degree         felony].”

Know your limits

According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, “SBS/AHT [Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma] is the leading cause of physical child abuse deaths in the U.S.” Taking care of an infant or a small child can be very difficult, especially if the baby cries incessantly or behaves contrary to how the person caring for them would want them to. Most caretakers practice soothing techniques and other methods to bring happiness to both the child and the caretaker. Even then, sometimes the crying or unwanted behavior continues. Caretakers are encouraged to know their limits and take the appropriate time and space needed to ensure they can handle the situation with the young child safely and appropriately. Teens who may be dealing with surges and fluctuations of hormones known to cause irritability and even moments of rage should decide whether or not child care is something they should be participating in. Any teens facing charges for grave mistakes regarding children in their care should consult with a juvenile defense attorney immediately.

14 Year old Stabbed Brother to Death in Self-Defense

Late Wednesday evening a 14 year old teenager stabbed his older brother to death in what appears to have been self-defense.

Brotherly spat

Photo by: Steven Depolo
Photo by: Steven Depolo

The 14 year old Jacksonville Florida teenager was having an argument with his 15 year old brother when the fight quickly escalated and got out of hand. The 15 year old struck the younger brother over the head with a board after which the 14 year old acted in self-defense, stabbing the older boy in the chest with a knife. The 15 year old later died from his injuries.

Self-defense

When a person kills another to protect themselves from severe harm, it is known as self-defense and can be considered justifiable homicide. Utah Code 76-2-402 states that justifiable homicide is when “A person is justified in using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury only if the person reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to the person or a third person as a result of another person’s imminent use of unlawful force, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

Factors to consider

76-2-402 additionally points out that if a Utah teenager or adult kills another person in self-defense, there will be several points that need to be verified in order for the killing to be justified such as:

• “the nature of the danger;
• The immediacy of the danger;
• The probability that the unlawful force would result in death or serious bodily injury;
• The other’s prior violent acts or violent propensities; and
• Any patterns of abuse or violence in the parties’ relationship.”

Self-defense or pattern of aggression

While it is believed to have been self-defense, the family of the teen boys involved in the stabbing has a lengthy history of domestic violence calls. This fact along with any behavioral information dug up in the next few weeks by investigators could have an effect on whether or not the 14 year old’s actions are seen as justifiable homicide or murder. When a homicide has taken place due to self-defense, it is always wise to consult with an attorney to help prevent charges from arising later on down the road. For more information on self-defense laws related to teenagers, contact a criminal defense attorney who is experienced in both adult and juvenile cases.

Utah Teen Considered Person of Interest in Southern Utah Homicide and How a Juvenile’s Case is Transferred to Adult Court

The teen is just 17-years-old, so is officially still a juvenile, although there are possible steps that prosecutors could take in attempting to have him declared an adult and requesting his case be moved to adult court if he ends up being arrested for the crime.

Steps to Take to Have Juvenile Certified as Adult in Utah

First, a prosecutor would file information alleging that a crime was committed which would have been a felony if committed by an adult. At that point, the juvenile court would conduct a preliminary hearing. At that hearing, the prosecution would have the burden of establishing that a crime was committed and that the defendant was responsible and that (with a preponderance of evidence) it would not be in the best interest of the minor or of the public for the juvenile court to handle the case.

There are several considerations that the juvenile court could base its decision on in such a matter, including:

* the seriousness of the offense and if the community would be better protected by the minor possibly serving a jail or prison sentence

* whether the alleged offense could subject the minor to enhanced penalties

* if the offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or willful manner

* whether the offense was against person or property

* the maturity level of the minor, including considerations of his home, environment, emotional attitude and pattern of living

* the record and previous history of the minor

* the likelihood of rehabilitation of the minor by use of juvenile court-available facilities

* whether the minor used a firearm

* if the minor used possessed a firearm on or about school premises

As you can see, there are many issues that can be taken into account where there’s a request to transfer a juvenile’s case to adult court. It’s vital that a minor’s potential for being incarcerated in adult prison not be taken lightly. To that end, if you have a child who’s involved in any criminal matter, you should talk to a Utah juvenile defense attorney as soon as possible.

Help Your Child by Getting Him the Legal Help He Needs

You can’t assume that your child’s best interests will automatically be taken seriously. It’s imperative that he or she be represented by a top defense attorney who is experienced in helping kids. Make that important call today.

Emotions Fly Over Utah Teen’s Being Charged with Aggravated Murder in Sergeant’s Death

Photo: Paul Sullivan

A Utah teen is being charged with multiple crimes, aggravated murder in particular, for her alleged role in the shooting death of a Utah County Sheriff’s sergeant.

Driver of Car Charged with Aggravated Murder

Sergeant Cory Wride died recently after being allegedly shot by Jose Angel Garcia-Juaregui. His suspected teenage accomplice was Meagan Grunwald, who is just 17. Grunwald is being accused of driving the getaway vehicle for Garcia-Juaregui.

Under Utah law, aiding and abetting and being an accessory to a crime may make it possible for the alleged accessory to be charged with the same crime as the person (in this case) who actually shot the fatal bullet.

Utah Teen Not Eligible for Death Penalty

Prosecutors have noted that because of Grunwald’s age, she is not eligible for the death penalty, but they have charged her with aggravated murder in adult court–which would make her eligible for a life sentence without the possibility of parole if she’s found guilty.

What Do You Think?

Opinions are flying as to what is the best way to handle this young girl’s situation. Opponents of her being tried in adult court seem to feel that dealing with her that way is, in fact, overkill (no pun intended). After all, isn’t that why juveniles are usually dealt with in juvenile court, to attempt to rehabilitate them and assist them in becoming valuable members of society?

There’s no doubt that Grunwald drove the getaway vehicle, but there also doesn’t seem to be any doubt that she played no part in shooting the police officer. Is driving a car for a man 10 years her senior who had who knows what type of control over her enough to send her to prison for the rest of her life? You’ll find people on both sides of this particular issue.

One Tragedy Doesn’t Mean There Needs to be Another Tragedy

Our point in bringing up this case is: should one tragedy be compounded by another tragedy–sending a 17-year-girl to prison for a crime she didn’t actually commit? What justice is to be served under these circumstances?

All kids need and deserve legal help, regardless of the offenses or crimes they’ve been charged with. Talk to a Utah juvenile defense attorney today and get your kid’s case on the right track.

Utah Teen Pleads Guilty to Homicide by Assault in Death of Soccer Referee

A Utah teen pleaded guilty to homicide by assault for causing the death of a soccer referee.

Photo: Richard North

Teen Admits Guilt in Court

The teen, Jose Teran, recently admitted his guilt in an incident which left a soccer referee with irreparable brain injuries—eventually leading to the man’s death. Teran and the referee were involved in a soccer game that ended when Teran punched the man in the head/face area after he gave the teen a yellow card for a foul.

The injury put the referee in a coma; he died about a week later. Teran admitted to the judge that he acted impulsively and in frustration when he hit the referee.

An Unexpected Plea

The plea was a bit surprising, since just last week the prosecution and defense were planning to argue whether or not Teran should be tried as an adult. Teran, who is 17 years old, will likely spend the next 4 years in a juvenile detention facility. Had he been tried as an adult and found guilty of homicide by assault, the maximum sentence he would have faced was 5 years in prison.

This young man will have a great deal of time to spend considering his actions and hopefully how to avoid this type of situation in the future. The judge did order Teran to keep a picture of the referee on display in his cell and to write to the victim’s daughters each week.

Teran, who had no previous juvenile incidents and who is reportedly an excellent student, expressed his desires to have a positive life and future following his detention.

Contact a Utah Juvenile Defense Attorney for Help

Kids make mistakes, which is why it’s important that they receive the best legal advice possible anytime they become involved in the juvenile justice system.

Talk to a Utah juvenile defense attorney today if your child is in legal trouble. Having an experienced attorney on your child’s side may make all the difference in their life.