Teenager charged in girl’s death appears in court

WEST VALLEY CITY (AP) — A Utah teenager accused of luring a 12-year-old neighbor girl from her home and strangling her made his first court appearance Wednesday, answering softly and nodding as a judge explained the charge against him.

In this aerial photo, investigators look for evidence in the field where the body of a 12-year-old girl was found on Friday , July 17, 2015, in West Valley City, Utah.  West Valley City Police Chief Lee Russo said Friday the girl left her house about midnight with someone her parents didn't know, West Valley City, Utah, July 17, 2015 | AP photo by Tom Smart, The Deseret News, St. George News
In this aerial photo, investigators look for evidence in the field where the body of a 12-year-old girl was found on Friday, July 17, 2015, in West Valley City, Utah. West Valley City Police Chief Lee Russo said Friday the girl left her house about midnight with someone her parents didn’t know, West Valley City, Utah, July 17, 2015 | AP photo by Tom Smart, The Deseret News, St. George News

The 15-year-old charged with aggravated murder was shackled, wore a dark green sweatshirt and appeared calm during the proceedings.

One of his attorneys, Patrick Corum, said he doesn’t think the boy understood what was happening and has instead learned to nod along. Corum didn’t elaborate on the teen’s mental state.

Prosecutors charged the teenager Tuesday, alleging in documents that he enticed Kailey Vijil from her house by knocking on her door and asking for help looking for a lost cat. Her body was found Friday in a field with a shirt around her neck.

The Associated Press is not naming the defendant because he is a juvenile.

Authorities say he also tried to lure at least one other young girl with a similar ruse in the Salt Lake City suburb of West Valley City about 20 minutes before he knocked on the door of Vijil’s home.

The teen’s neighbor, Stephanie Sala, said she has known his family about six years. The teen has quirks, like wandering the neighborhood and swearing in front of adults, but seemed like a typical kid, she said.

Obviously something snapped, because he’s never showed any type of behavior that he was capable of anything like that,” she said.

Sala said the boy hollered over to her yard on Thursday to ask her 6-year-old niece to come out and play. Sala thought the request was odd and told him no, but she wasn’t alarmed.

The suburban West Valley City neighborhood includes older, well-kept homes. Purple ribbons honoring Vijil appeared on many houses.

The boy has a misdemeanor juvenile record of possession of drug paraphernalia, theft and burglary, dating to last fall, according to court papers.

He had served time in juvenile facilities and been put on probation just over a week before Vijil was killed, the documents show.

After he was arrested, the teen acknowledged being with Vijil in a field after she left home, authorities said.

He doesn’t appear to have known the victim before he knocked on her door that night, according to police.

Family members of the victim and the suspect appeared at Wednesday’s hearing but declined to speak with reporters.

The teen is being held on $1 million cash-only bail and is due back in court next month.

By LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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8 Comments

  • anybody home July 23, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    “The teen’s neighbor, Stephanie Sala, said she has known his family about six years. The teen has quirks, like wandering the neighborhood and swearing in front of adults, but seemed like a typical kid, she said.

    “Obviously something snapped, because he’s never showed any type of behavior that he was capable of anything like that,” she said.

    “Sala said the boy hollered over to her yard on Thursday to ask her 6-year-old niece to come out and play. Sala thought the request was odd and told him no, but she wasn’t alarmed.”

    Oh yeah, just a typical kid.

    • Real Life July 23, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      Was thinking the same thing. Yep. Just your typical kid. Except for the whole wandering, swearing at adults and attempted abduction thing.

      • Free Parking July 24, 2015 at 4:23 am

        Yeah real dork.. You got it all figured out eh.?

  • fun bag July 23, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    well the kid was prob a delinquent, but i guess no one expected him to be out at midnight looking for 12yr olds to rape and murder… kinda messed up

    • anybody home July 23, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      And it’s a sad story all around…especially if the kid needed help he wasn’t getting…parents in denial or…?

  • Free Parking July 23, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    Oh well he didn’t shoot anybody…

  • ladybugavenger July 24, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Defense attorney preparing for insanity defense?

  • Free Parking July 24, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Fundraiser

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