OGDEN — A prosecutor said Tuesday that charges may be amended or added in the case of an Ogden teenager accused in the robbery-murder of a store owner.
Investigation continues into circumstances related to the firearm police believe was used in the Feb. 28 killing of Satnam Singh, 65, deputy Weber County attorney Letitia Toombs said.
“There is a little bit more investigation that may result in a change or an addition to some of the charges,” Toombs said in a 2nd District Juvenile Court pretrial hearing.
According to charging documents, the 15-year-old allegedly shot at Singh four times, hitting him twice, with a handgun during the late-night robbery at Super Grocery.
When Ogden police arrested him two days later at his home, the teen allegedly said he bought the gun, but he would not identify the seller.
Police said they found the gun and clothing the teen allegedly wore the night of the shooting.
Toombs’ disclosure of the gun investigation came after Judge Debra Jensen asked attorneys for a report on the progress of evidence discovery in preparation for a preliminary hearing in the case.
“That’s new to us,” defense attorney Ron Nichols said.
Both sides said they’re still waiting for the state medical examiner’s autopsy report, and Nichols said he has not yet received the final report from a psychologist’s assessment of the teenager.
During a police interview, according to the arrest affidavit, the teen said he allegedly planned the robbery “because he did not have as much cash as he wanted.” The teen acknowledged having smoked THC the day before the robbery “but that he stopped smoking so he could be sober for the robbery,” the affidavit said.
Toombs and Nichols asked Jensen to schedule an in-person preliminary hearing because with a large volume of video evidence, an online hearing would be cumbersome, the prosecutor said.
Jensen said because of the gravity of the case, she may be able to declare that “exigent circumstances” as defined in the Utah court system’s COVID-19 protocols would apply, allowing an in-person proceeding.
Since the pandemic struck in spring 2020, few major hearings or trials have been held in courthouses. Most hearings are conducted via video conferencing, and major trials have been put off until conditions improve.
Jensen tentatively set the pretrial hearing for Aug. 19-20.
The Weber County Attorney’s Office has asked that the case be elevated to district court. Jensen will make that determination at the close of the preliminary hearing.
The teen is charged with aggravated murder and aggravated robbery, both first-degree felonies.
If the case stays in juvenile court, upon a conviction the teen could be imprisoned only until age 25.
An aggravated murder conviction in district court could result in up to a life sentence. Utah law prohibits sentences of life without parole or the death penalty for juveniles.
Because the defendant is a juvenile still being prosecuted in juvenile court, the Standard-Examiner has chosen not to identify him.
He is held without bail at Weber Valley Youth Center in Ogden.