Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 12:42 PM
FARMINGTON — With his father sitting next to him in Tuesday’s hearing, Aza Vidinhar, 15, charged with two counts of felony murder, appeared calm and answered, “Yes,” when Judge Janice Frost asked him if he understood the charges.
One of Vidinhar’s attorneys, Todd Sessions, asked the judge to wait to deal with the prosecutors’ request to certify the teen as adult until after a preliminary hearing.
Vidinhar has been assigned two attorneys, Sessions and Todd Utzinger.
Deputy Davis County Attorney Ryan Perkins is the prosecutor assigned to the case.
On Tuesday, Frost set a preliminary hearing, at which evidence will be presented, for Aug. 27 in 2nd District Juvenile Court.
Vidinhar is accused of stabbing to death his two younger brothers, Alex, 10, and Benjie, 4. The younger boys were found May 22 with multiple stab wounds, after their mother returned home, in the main parts of their home in West Point.
Vidinhar was found several hours later by Layton police as he walked down a street. He was taken into custody and booked in Farmington Youth Center on May 23.
The Davis County Attorney’s Office filed formal charges July 1, along with a motion asking the judge to certify the teenager as an adult.
Utzinger spoke to reporters after the hearing and said it is normal for parents to sit with their children who are charged in juvenile court.
Vidinhar’s father sat next him to during the court proceedings, “which speaks volumes about him,” Utzinger said.
“It’s an impossible situation for a parent to go through, and they’re handling it as best they can,” he said.
If the judge determines there is enough evidence for the case to go forward, a certification hearing, “which will be much more involved,”will be scheduled, Utzinger said.
“It is our belief that juveniles should stay in juvenile court. He is barely 15 years old, and the mental development of a 15-year-old can be seriously harmed, as well as their psyche, if they are in the adult system.”
Under Utah law, a person convicted and sentenced in the juvenile system is released at age 21, no matter what the crime is.
Vidinhar’s father declined to comment but has said in the past that he wants his son’s case to remain in the juvenile court system.
Utzinger said the judge does consider the parent’s wishes but also looks at a number of factors, including the boy’s background, mental health issues, if a gun or weapon was used and the seriousness of the crime.
Utzinger said he believes the juvenile court system can adequately address any problems or issues Vidinhar may have. He would not discuss the mental state of his client.
No one from the Davis County Attorney’s Office would comment about the case after Tuesday’s hearing.
When his office filed the charges and the motion to certify Vidinhar as an adult, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said that, from what prosecutors have seen of the evidence, “the public’s safety is paramount.”
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