A 16-year-old boy charged with aggravated attempted murder for shooting a 14-year-old girl in the back of the head then leaving her in a canal in Smithfield, Utah, told police he tried to kill her because she was sending him too many messages on Snapchat.
The unidentified shooter and his friend of the same age, were both charged with aggravated attempted murder, aggravated robbery and obstructing justice after the Deserae Turner was reported missing on Feb. 16.
Information from interviews the boy had with police was presented as evidence in a preliminary hearing on March 22, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Cache County Sheriff Deputy Brian Groves testified that Turner had no idea that she would be shot in the back of the head at close range when the boys lured her to the canal under the guise of buying a knife.
"She had no idea that was going to happen," Groves said. "[The teen] said it was the most merciful way."
Groves testified that the teenage boys did not plan on shooting Turner. He said the alleged shooter told him he had met Turner at the canal days before, intending to kill her then by slitting her throat but he couldn't go through with it.
"He was supposed to slit her throat," Groves said. "He indicated to me that he couldn't do it."
When Groves asked the teen why he shot the girl, the teen said he became annoyed with Turner texting and contacting him through the messaging app Snapchat and wished he could just "get rid of" her.
In response, the alleged shooter said his friend, highlighted by Deseret News as "tall and blonde," responded, "Well you've got a 6-inch blade, why don't you do it yourself?"
The alleged shooter said he laughed it off as a joke at first, but later, his blonde friend became serious when he suggested they actually could go through with it, according to his statement to police.
The friend told the alleged shooter "It would be pretty easy to get rid of her," Groves testified.
On Feb. 16, the alleged shooter told Groves that they tried the murder plot again but this time brought a gun as a back-up plan. When they realized that neither of them could slit her throat the teenager decided to pull the trigger as Turner was distracted.
The "blonde" accomplice allegedly lied to Turner that he had lost a ring in the mud at the canal and she was busy helping them search for the ring at the time she was shot.
Three weeks after Turner was shot, according to Deseret News, one of the first things she asked when she was able to speak again was whether one of the boys accused in the plot to kill her had found his ring.
In a March 10 interview recorded in Turner's hospital room, the girl described what she could recall of being at the canal. It was muddy, she said, and she had gone because the alleged gunman asked her to. She said she didn't know his friend would be there. In addition to describing the alleged gunman's accomplice as "tall and blonde," she also identified both boys by name.
Detectives say she was shocked in her hospital bed in disbelief that those she once considered "friends" would do such a thing.
"That's how this cruel, unsuspecting and terrible act occurred and you heard her testimony, she was surprised by that," Cache County Attorney James Swink said in court Wednesday.
Both boys, according to Deseret News, now face evidentiary hearings, May 8-9 for the alleged gunman and May 1-2 for his friend, to determine if they will face the charges as adults or remain in juvenile court. If they are tried as adults their identities will be revealed.
It was revealed earlier that one of the boys also kept the shell casing from the bullet that hit Turner as a "memento" and displayed it on his bedroom window sill.
"I haven't seen anything like this case in the 18 years that I've worked for Cache County," Swink noted.
Deserae's father, Matt Turner, said in a statement he read that the family was hopeful about her recovery.
"The prayers of so many have been answered as our sweet daughter is still here with us," he said. "We continue to be hopeful for improvements in our daughter's condition. She has undergone a tough surgery and continues to fight for the ability to complete daily tasks many of us take for granted."