GUILTY: Killing of West Point brothers

Thursday , June 19, 2014 - 2:36 PM

dnews VidinharHearing LS-1

Todd Utzinger, attorney for Aza Vidinhar, speaks to attorneys during a break at the Davis Justice...

FARMINGTON — Parents of Aza Vidinhar, 16, of West Point sat on the front row on Wednesday while he admitted to stabbing his younger brothers multiple times in their home more than a year ago.

Vidinhar, dressed in a blue sweatshirt and gray sweat pants, handcuffed and shackled, stood up with his attorneys while judges in two courts accepted his guilty pleas to two counts of first-degree felony murder.

Vidinhar’s parents wiped away tears as their oldest son admitted in 2nd District Juvenile Court to stabbing his younger brother, Alex Vidinhar, 10, multiple times on May 22, 2013, in their home.

Almost two hours later, Vidinhar’s parents were also in the adult 2nd District Court when he entered a guilty plea to the second count of first-degree felony murder. He admitted to stabbing his brother, Benjamin Vidinhar, 4.

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"This is not a happy day by any means, but a somber day,“ Todd Utzinger, Vidinhar’s attorney, said at the end of the hearing in adult court. ”This has been a very difficult day for his parents.“ 

As part of Vidinhar’s plea agreement, he waived his right to an adult certification hearing and the second charge was transferred to the adult court. He will be sentenced to the Utah State Prison when he is 21 or if the juvenile justice system relinquishes custody of him before then.

Utzinger, said, “It would be inhumane to send a 15-year-old child to adult prison.”

Both judges, Judge Janice Frost and Judge David Hamilton, read the plea agreement out loud and made sure Vidinhar understood each linet.

When asked by Frost if he had stabbed his brother Alex multiple times, Vidinhar said, “That’s true.”

Vidinhar is expected to be held in a secure juvenile facility until he is 21. He then will be transferred to the Utah State Prison, where he will serve a sentence of 15 years to life for the death of Benjamin.

Before Vidinhar is sent to the adult prison, a sentencing hearing will be held in 2nd District Court.

Frost told Vidinhar his behavior in the juvenile system will weigh on his adult sentence.

“You will agree to not hide any destructive behavior,“ Frost said.

“I understand,“ Vidinhar said.

In adult court, after Hamilton asked Vidinhar if he had read the plea agreement by himself, Vidinhar was quiet for a moment.

“Yeah, I read, it,” Vidinhar said.

“Do you understand it?” Hamilton said.

“I understand it,” Vidinhar said.

Then Utzinger was asked to read the factual statement in the court document to what Vidinhar admitted to doing.

“I admit that on May 22, I intentionally caused the death of my brother, initial, B.V., by stabbing him numerous times.” Utzinger read.

Hamilton asked Vidinhar if he was entering a guilty plea by his own choice and also if he had been threatened.

“It’s my choice,” Vidinhar said. “No one has threatened me.”

Hamilton also asked if Vidinhar about the medication he was taking and it if clouded his thinking.

“It kind of helps, actually,” Vidinhar said.

Frost said the plea agreement satisfies the needs of Vidinhar’s mental health treatments and also the need of public safety.

”There will come a day when you will be released,” Frost told the teenager.

Frost said told Vidinhar to take advantage of the programs offered and to make himself “a better person.”

Vidinhar apologized, through Utzinger, for what he did.

The Davis County Attorney’s Office issued a press release following the hearing. “Under this resolution, Aza will receive the benefits of resources available in the juvenile justice system as he matures. In addition, public safety concerns are addressed by moving Aza into the adult system when he has completed his Juvenile Court sentence.”

County Attorney Troy Rawlings said after court it will ultimately be up to the state Board of Pardon & Parole on how long Vidinhar will be incarcerated.

He also said, “We are extremely concerned about the vulnerability and devastation of the family involved in this case. Aza is their son and the victims were their children, too.”

Vidinhar did not want to go through the certification hearing for adult court because he wanted to spare his parents, Utzinger said. Vidinhar waived his right to a certification hearing and agreed to have the second charge transferred to adult court.

Utzinger had filed a sealed motion on May 7 asking Frost to close the certification hearing to the public and news media. He said he planned to present evidence concerning Vidinhar’s psychological status, he wanted to protect Vidinhar’s family, and wanted to preserve Vidinhar’s right to a fair trial.

Debra Jensen, Vidinhar’s court appointed guardian ad litem, had said, “Sensitive psychological, educational and medical evidence involving (Vidinhar) and other minor siblings will be presented” during the certification hearing.

News organizations, including the Standard-Examiner, argued against the closure. Frost did not rule on the matter, which is now moot.

On May 22, 2013, the younger Vidinhar brothers were found dead in their home.

Vidinhar, 15 at the time, was found several hours later that night by Layton police as he walked down a street. He was taken into custody and booked in Farmington Youth Center, where he has been held since his arrest.

Frost ruled in November statements made by Vidinhar to Davis County sheriff’s deputies on May 23, 2013, were inadmissible, following a motion filed by attorneys on both sides. They had stipulated that Vidinhar’s statements after the discovery of his brothers’ bodies in his home violated his Miranda rights.

Contact reporter Loretta Park at 801-625-4252 or lpark@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @LorettaParkSE. Like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SELorettaPark.

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