Alleged confessions that they injected Natalie Michele Farrer with heroin just hours before her death will land two men before a jury on a charge of murder.
The admissions from Monte White and Benjamin Zee Jensen - with testimony Thursday from the chief state medical examiner that Farrer died of drug intoxication - was enough for Judge Lynn W. Davis to bind the two over for trial on the first-degree felony charges.White, 19, Orem, also will stand trial on three second-degree felony counts of heroin distribution; one count of heroin possession and one count of abuse of a dead body, third-degree felonies; and marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession, class B misdemeanors.
Besides the murder charge, Jensen, 19, Orem, also faces two charges of heroin distribution, a second-degree felony.
The two young men, who are being held in the Utah County Jail on $250,000 bail, could be sentenced to five years to life in prison if convicted of the murder charge.
Farrer's body was found March 9 in a flower bed behind an LDS chapel at 1650 N. Geneva Road in Provo after police received an anonymous 911 call from a nearby pay telephone. Investigators believe Farrer, 17, died at White's home in southwest Orem and her body was dropped off at the church.
Utah County sheriff's detective Patricia Johnson testified that she interviewed White the day after Farrer's body was found. In that interview, White allegedly said that he, Farrer and another man drove to Salt Lake City on the night of March 8 and purchased heroin from a dealer.
White allegedly told Johnson that while in Salt Lake City, he injected himself and Farrer with a heroin mixture. After returning home to Orem a few hours later, White again injected himself and Farrer with heroin. The two watched television until 2 a.m. and then went to sleep together in White's bed.
White said he gave Farrer a dosage less than his because she had only used heroin a couple of times before, Johnson testified.
The detective also testified that White said he awoke the next day about noon and found Farrer's "cold and blue" body. Efforts to revive her were unsuccessful, so he and his sister placed Farrer's body in a sleeping bag and placed her in the back seat of White's car. They drove along Geneva Road and eventually dumped Farrer's body off behind the church. They then drove to a nearby convenience store and called 911, Johnson said White told her.
Detective Neal Castleberry testified that he interviewed Jensen a few days after White was interviewed. Jensen allegedly admitted that he was the person who drove White, Farrer, and another person to Salt Lake City that day.
Jensen told the detective that after White purchased the heroin in the parking lot of a video store, he injected himself with a mixture he cooked up and watched White injected himself and Farrer.
The group then traveled to a friend's home, where Jensen again injected himself with heroin and injected Farrer with a dosage cooked up by White. Jensen allegedly told Castleberry that he warned White not to mix Farrer a dosage too strong because of her inexperience with the drug.
Jensen said the group returned to Orem and dropped Farrer off at her home about 10 p.m. About 30 minutes later they received a call from Farrer that she had been kicked out of her house and needed a place to stay.
Castleberry said Jensen told him he left White's home a short time after Farrer arrived there and got back to his apartment about 11:30 p.m. Jensen told the detective that the two again drove to Salt Lake City the next day and injected more heroin. Jensen said he wasn't aware at the time that Farrer had died, and that White said Farrer had "cruised" from his home earlier that day.
Todd Grey, chief state medical examiner, testified Thursday that heroin, cocaine, codeine and marijuana were found in Farrer's body. He said the level of heroin was within the range known to cause death, and that it was unlikely the other substances caused Farrer's death.
He also said a secondary cause of death was strangulation.
Utah County Deputy Attorney Craig Madsen said White and Jensen were charged with murder because they showed a "depraved indifference to human life" when they injected Farrer with a substance they knew had the potential to cause "grave risk of death."
John Musselman, White's attorney, argued that the acts of his client don't meet the "depraved indifference" standard, should be classified as reckless and are more fitting of a manslaughter charge.
"What we have here is a group of people that wanted to do drugs together and a group that fully intended to be alive the next day," Musselman said.
Madsen responded that White's wanting to return to Salt Lake City to shoot up heroin on the same day he found a dead body in his bed exhibits his "depraved indifference to human life."
The key evidence at trial will again be White's and Jensen's confessions to police. Musselman and Zabriske will file motions before trial seeking to suppress the confessions.
Jensen pleaded not guilty Thursday to all charges and is scheduled to stand trial Oct. 7. White also pleaded not guilty to all charges and is scheduled to stand trial Oct. 21.