15 Year old Utah Teen Playing With Shotgun Arrested For Felony Manslaughter of Brother

A 15 year old Kearns, Utah teen was arrested for felony manslaughter after the boy was playing with a shotgun and fired a deadly shot at his step-brother.

Dangerous play

16 year old Jerrad Jacobsen and his 15 year old step-brother were in Jacobsen’s bedroom with a loaded weapon before school when Jacobsen was fatally shot in the head. The original statement from the step-brother stated Jacobsen accidentally shot himself while the step-brother was turned around but the story was later revised to affirm the 15 year old was the one with the gun. The mother of the deceased claims the shooting to be non-accidental, yet intent to kill has not been proven. Police have arrested and charged the step-brother with second degree manslaughter as well as obstruction of justice.

Manslaughter

After police again questioned the teen about the fatal incident, the step-brother admitted he was the one with shotgun. He told police he pointed the gun at Jacobsen and pulled the trigger. The teen claims it was an accident as he was unaware the gun was loaded. Even if the death was an accident, it was something that could have been avoided had the teen not been behaving in a careless manner. The 15 year old is charged with “. . . recklessly caus[ing] the death of another”, which Utah Code 76-5-205 defines as manslaughter, a second degree felony. At this time, investigators have not found evidence to support the claim that Jacobsen’s death was done on purpose. If the step-brother’s actions are found to be intentional, he could face first-degree homicide charges.

Obstruction of justice

The 15 year old step-brother is also facing a third degree felony for obstruction of justice since he initially lied to police about who had the gun when it went off. Utah Code 76-8-306 states: “An actor commits obstruction of justice if the actor, with intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the investigation, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of any person regarding conduct that constitutes a criminal offense:. . . provides false information regarding a suspect, a witness, the conduct constituting an offense, or any other material aspect of the investigation.”

Gun safety and education

This fatal incident is a reminder to all parents to teach their children about gun safety and to ensure that any firearms in the home are unloaded and out of children’s reach. Teens who may be in regular control of a firearm under a parent’s guidance should participate in a gun education course to help ensure they practice responsible behavior around firearms and know how to safely handle and unload a weapon. Any teens facing legal trouble should consult with an attorney who can help guide  them to be honest during questioning  without further incriminating themselves of a crime .

Two Arrested For “Inside Job” Robbery of Phone Store in Utah

Two individuals including an 18 year old from Las Vegas were arrested for an ‘inside job’ robbery of a phone store in Hurricane, Utah.

Prepaid phones and cash

Photo by: Cat

18 year old Jakob Grogan of Las Vegas, Nevada entered a Metro PCS phone store in Hurricane, Utah and stole phones and cash while pointing a gun at the person working in the store. After Grogan fled the scene, the store attendant called police and was able to give an accurate description of the suspect. That description later led to his arrest of the robbery suspect and the store attendant.

Smooth criminals

Police patrolling the streets of a nearby town in southern Utah pulled over a vehicle for a traffic violation and discovered the suspect, Grogan sitting in the passenger seat of the car. Officers were able to match Grogan to the very detailed description given by the phone store employee who just so happened to be the driver of the car Grogan was a passenger in. Both robbery suspect and robbery victim were arrested.

Two arrested, reduced charges

18 year old Grogan was originally facing several charges including armed robbery which is a first degree felony until it was determined that the victim was actually an accomplice to the crime. Following that knowledge, the charges against Grogan were all reduced. He now faces one third degree felony for possession of a firearm by a restricted person along with a handful of misdemeanor charges. The victim/accomplice was arrested for three class A misdemeanors including obstruction of justice.

Criminal Charges For Lying to Police for a Friend

Many teens will do anything to protect their friends, but lying to police could result in obstruction of justice charges.

Lying to police

Photo by: Carmella Fernando

Talking to police officers can be intimidating to teens and they often feel they need to respond to every question asked. Unfortunately, many juveniles also want to protect their friends and may give dishonest responses to police questioning. They may lie to officers about a friend’s involvement in a crime to protect their friend from legal trouble or to protect themselves from backlash from peers for being a “snitch”. Unknown to many youngsters however, lying to an officer even if the person being questioned is not a suspect in the crime is still against the law.

Obstruction of justice

There are many ways teens may lie or otherwise display dishonest behavior in order to protect a peer. They may flat out lie in response to police questioning or they may throw items away for a friend or even supply transportation or a place to hide. If a person tampers with evidence, helps someone evade the law, or otherwise meddles with a criminal investigation, as stated in Utah Code 76-8-306, they could face obstruction of justice charges. Penalties for obstruction of justice vary from a class A misdemeanor to a second degree felony depending on the crime a person is trying to help their friend avoid.

Prepare for questioning

Photo by: Ethan Lofton

Police officers are allowed to communicate with the public freely, asking questions about investigations or simply shooting the breeze. When this happens, teens shouldn’t feel trapped into answering questions that could incriminate themselves or another person. Preparing for possible inquiries from law enforcement may help teens avoid saying too much or saying things that aren’t true which could lead to legal trouble. Teens should always state their identity if asked by an officer but any further questions do not require answers without legal representation present. The person being questioned can politely ask in response to questioning:

• “Am I being arrested or detained?” ; and

• If the answer is ‘no’, they may then ask “Am I free to go?”

If they are required by an officer to stay and answer questions, ensure all teens know of their right to ask for an attorney and to exercise that right prior to answering any further questions. For more information related to crimes involving minor children and teens, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Utah Kids Warned about Withholding Information from Police

Utah kids are warned about withholding information from police no matter what the info will do to their reputation or friendships with other kids.

Protecting a friend may end in charges

Photo by: Jennifer Moo
Photo by: Jennifer Moo

Many youth will go to great lengths to protect their friends from getting into trouble. That often includes fabricating stories and withholding information from police. Regrettably, withholding information from police that is considered significant in an investigation may cause the protecting friend to face charges of obstruction of justice.

Obstruction of justice

Utah Code 76-8-306 states that someone is guilty of obstruction of justice if they “conceal[s] information that is not privileged and that concerns the offense [after a judge has ordered them to provide the information] or if they provide[s] false information regarding a suspect, a witness, the conduct constituting an offense, or any other material aspect of the investigation.” Depending on the case that is being affected by withholding information from police, obstruction of justice charges can range from a misdemeanor to a 2nd degree felony.

Protect juvenile record by cooperating with police

No friend is worth the repercussions of withholding information from police. If they were a decent friend, they wouldn’t have gotten those they care about caught in the crosshairs of their criminal activities. There are options out there for kids who want to cooperate with police privately though. For those youth not wanting to face charges for withholding information from police but also not wanting to be known as a snitch, it is possible to speak to police as a confidential informant. This option protects the informant from backlash that they might receive from peers about speaking up. For more information on minors withholding information from police or how to speak confidentially with law enforcement, contact a Utah juvenile criminal defense attorney.

Utah Juvenile Murder Case Preliminary Hearing Set

Juvenile murder preliminary hearing set
Photo: Bgwhite/Wikimedia Commons

In the horrific case of the murder of a 15-year-old girl, a preliminary hearing has been set for March 2, 2015, almost three years exactly since the day her body was found in the Jordan River.

Murder Most Foul

On Sunday morning, March 11, 2012, Draper Police responded to reports of suspicious activity at a footbridge over the Jordan River. When they arrived, they found a bloody shoe on the bridge. A Utah Highway Patrol helicopter was called in, and at approximately 2 p.m., they spotted the body about a mile downstream from the footbridge. Search and Rescue recovered the body two hours later, and police were able to identify the body as that of 15-year-old Anne Kasprzak.

In October of this year, police arrested a Colorado teen for the murder for Kasprzak. They believe the juvenile was living in Utah at the time of the murder and was Kasprzak’s boyfriend. While theories have been proposed as to the motive for the boy’s actions, at this point, nothing solid has been proven.

The boy, now 17 years old and who has remained nameless in the media so far, is being tried in the 3rd District Court for murder and obstruction of justice, both felonies. However, prosecutors may seek to try him as an adult.

Murder Charges are Consideration for Adult Trial

There are several reasons a juvenile case may be tried in adult court, and in this particular example, two of those potential requirements have been fulfilled. The charges of aggravated assault or murder can bring about a waiver to adult court. In addition, other crimes that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult could also land a juvenile in adult court. Other considerations include the age of the juvenile at the time of the incident or the time of trial (typically over 16 years old) and the criminal history of the juvenile.

It has been estimated that approximately 250,000 juvenile are tried as adults annually. This is a serious consideration when choosing how to protect your son or daughter. If you child has been charged with murder—or any other offense serious enough to have them considered for trial in adult court—don’t leave their fate up to a public defender. Make sure to contact an experienced juvenile defense attorney.