Knife Wielding Utah Teen Charged With Aggravated Assault after Defending Sibling

A knife wielding Eagle Mountain Utah teenager was charged with aggravated assault after defending his younger sibling from abuse.

Violence for violence

The 16 year old teen who has not been named due to his age was placed into a juvenile detention center after he stabbed his 18 year old brother five times with a knife. The younger teen was trying to intervene to defend his 14 year old sister from their older brother, Steven Johnston, after an argument between the girl and Johnston escalated. Reports state that Johnston began physically assaulting the 14 year old girl when the 16 year old brother came to her aid, using a knife to wound the 18 year old sibling and thereby ceasing the assault on the younger sister.

Charges for both brothers

18 year old Johnston was flown to the hospital to be treated for his wounds and upon his release, will face misdemeanor charges for assaulting his younger sister. Meanwhile, the 16 year old brother is facing felony aggravated assault for using a knife to defend his sister against their older sibling. According to Utah Code 76-5-103, “Aggravated assault in an actor’s conduct that is:
i. an attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; ( . . . )
ii. a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or
iii. an act, committed with unlawful force or violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another; and
that includes the use of:
i. a dangerous weapon ( . . . );
iii. other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.”

No criminal intent

More than likely, the teen did not have plans on assaulting his older brother with a knife that day. In the heat of the moment however, it may have been difficult for him to think of anything other than protecting his sister from harm. It is difficult to ask anyone, especially a minor, to think and act rationally in stressful situations. In hindsight, the teen may have been able to stop the abuse from the 18 year old brother without using a weapon. There is also the chance the abuse could have continued to escalate, further jeopardizing the safety of the little sister. The 16 year old Utah teen chose to ensure the safety of his sister, and may now face up to 15 years in prison. Any minors who are facing charges following a rash decision during a stressful situation or after defending another person from harm, contact a juvenile defense attorney to discuss the defense options related to the case.

19 Year Old Charged in Triple Homicide

19 year old Gerald Grant was charged with murder for the triple homicide that took place in South Salt Lake earlier this month. His attorney stated he was acting in self-defense.

Gunfire in a closed vehicle

Triple Homicide
Photo by: Peter Anderson

Police are still investigating the triple homicide that resulted in the death of a 17 year old teenager and his friends, 19 and 20 year old brothers. At this time it is known that an altercation erupted in a car in which the three friends and Grant were riding in together. The car stopped abruptly, gunfire took place inside, and all parties were injured.

Leaving the scene of a crime

The three critically injured friends stayed on scene while Grant left and later checked himself into a local hospital. The 17 year old and the brothers ended up succumbing to their injuries while Grant was originally listed in serious condition. Authorities were able to locate two guns found at the scene. Both weapons allegedly belonged to Grant yet he was not the only shooter. At this time, authorities have not determined who shot first and if anyone including Grant acted on self-defense.

Photo by: Tex Texin
Photo by: Tex Texin

Wounded and bragging?

Grant who suffered from a gunshot wound to his left leg appeared to be only a victim in the shooting until witnesses came forward with hearsay. They claimed Grant openly confessed to be the shooter in the triple homicide. Currently, their hearsay is the only evidence against Grant; hearsay and the fact that he is the only survivor of the shooting.

Murder or self-defense for triple homicide

Photo by: Matt Reinbold
Photo by: Matt Reinbold

If Grant’s attorney can prove that he was not the one who provoked the shootout and that he was only trying to defend himself, he may face charges for possession of the firearms and leaving the scene of a crime, but not for murder. If Grant’s attorney is unable to show beyond a reasonable doubt that he acted in Self-defense, Grant could be facing three first degree felonies for aggravated murder, each punishable by 5 years to life in prison.

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.


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.