OGDEN — Both sides have rejected manslaughter plea bargain proposals in the case of an Ogden teenager charged with murder in the 2020 shooting death of a friend.
In a status hearing Wednesday before 2nd District Judge Cristina Ortega, the attorney for 18-year-old Brandon Parker, Randall Marshall, said no resolution had been reached.
Dean Saunders, a deputy Weber County attorney prosecuting the case, told Ortega he wanted it made known on the court record that the defense had rejected a plea bargain that would have reduced the main charge to manslaughter.
Marshall then said he wanted it known that Saunders had rejected the defense’s proposal for bargaining down the charge to manslaughter and transferring it to juvenile court.
Under a manslaughter conviction in criminal court, a defendant could be sentenced to an indeterminate term of up to 15 years in prison, the penalty for a second-degree felony. If Parker’s case moved to juvenile court and he was convicted, he could be held in custody no longer than until his 25th birthday.
If there’s no plea bargain and Parker is tried and convicted of murder, the penalty for that first-degree felony is five years to life in prison.
Parker was 17 when Caden Ferguson, 16, died of a single gunshot to the forehead on the morning of March 14, 2020, at Parker’s parents’ home. Police testimony at a preliminary hearing said Parker had been drinking brandy and consuming marijuana dabs. The shooting happened at about 5 a.m.
The Weber County Attorney’s Office charged Parker as an adult with first-degree felony murder; second-degree felony charges of theft by receiving a stolen firearm and obstructing justice; and a third-degree felony charge of use of a firearm by a restricted person.
Parker was held in juvenile detention for nearly a year, with bail set at $250,000. When he turned 18 and was set to be transferred to the Weber County Jail, Black Lives Matter Utah raised $25,000 cash bail to secure his release pending trial.
Parker, his family and Black Lives Matter contend the shooting was accidental and he should not have been charged with murder or tried in adult court.
Lex Scott, head of Black Lives Matter Utah, said the murder charge is discriminatory. Parker is Black, and she said a white defendant would have been charged with a lesser offense. Weber County Attorney Christopher Allred said the murder charge fits the case well and he did not even know Parker was Black until objections to the charge were raised.
Earlier this year, the court scheduled a May 24 trial for Parker, but that date was scrubbed as the plea bargaining intensified.
No new trial date had been scheduled as of Thursday morning.