LOGAN, Utah – A teenager charged with encouraging a friend to kill a 14-year-old girl in a plot hatched as the boys played video games was sentenced to at least 15 years in prison Wednesday, a year after the girl survived a gunshot to the head.
Judge Brian Cannell praised victim Deserae Turner as "indomitable" as he handed down the sentence that could keep Jayzon Decker, 17, in prison for life, the Deseret News reported. Turner said in court that the bullet still lodged in her brain leaves her struggling to walk, dress herself and function through debilitating headaches.
"You are evil. I wish this had never happened," she said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. "Good luck having a life in prison and remember that, because of you, my life is a prison too."
His co-defendant Colter D. Peterson, 17, was also sentenced to 15 years to life in prison last week.
Prosecutors said the pair concocted the plan in February 2017 while playing video games and discussing their desire to "get rid" of Turner, who was messaging Peterson on social media. They lured her to an isolated dry canal bed behind a high school in Smithfield, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of Salt Lake City, then shot her and left her for dead in a ditch, prosecutors said.
Decker kept the spent shell casing "as a memento," charges said. Officers later found it displayed on his bedroom windowsill.
The Associated Press does not typically name juvenile defendants, but the teens were ordered to face charges as adults. Decker pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated murder and felony obstruction of justice.
His lawyer Shannon Demler had asked for a shorter minimum sentence, saying that Decker's role was less serious, that had an otherwise clean record, and was too young for his brain to have fully matured.
His mother Billie Jean Decker said she had known him as a kind boy who loved his cousins and opened doors for women at church.
But Cannell found the teen was legally and morally just as responsible for the crime as the boy who pulled the trigger.
"I tried to read you today. I tried to see if you were past feeling," the judge told the defendant. "I don't know what's scarier — the actual act, or not understanding it, or the lack of emotion."