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Hunter High teen charged as adult with murder in stabbing death of classmate

Jonatan Bustos has been charged as an adult with first-degree felony murder in the death of fellow Hunter High School student Taylor Pankow.
Jonatan Bustos has been charged as an adult with first-degree felony murder in the death of fellow Hunter High School student Taylor Pankow.
Salt Lake County Jail

WEST VALLEY CITY — A 16-year-old boy has been charged as an adult with murder, a first-degree felony, in the stabbing death of a fellow Hunter High student.

Jonatan Bustos, of West Valley City, was arguing with the victim about a stolen iPod outside the Family Dollar Store, 4715 S. 1460 West, just before 5 p.m. on Monday, according to charges filed in 3rd District Court on Thursday.

Prosecutors say Bustos pulled out a knife and stabbed 15-year-old Taylor Pankow once in the abdomen and once in the heart.

Bustos told police that he started carrying a knife ever since he and the victim started arguing over the iPod the previous Friday. Police said the two boys had a recent ongoing disagreement over possession of an iPod and the two reportedly agreed to meet in the Dollar Store parking lot to settle their differences.

Bustos admitted to stabbing Pankow outside the West Valley store and stabbing him twice in the abdomen and then running away, the charges state.

After police arrived, they were able to track down Bustos at a nearby residence and arrest him. He was booked into juvenile detention but was moved to the Salt Lake County Jail on Thursday. He is being held on $1 million bail.

"He's been charged as an adult because he meets the state statute," said Mark Biljanic, spokesman for the District Attorney's office. "Basically, if you're 16 and you commit murder, that crime falls under the jurisdiction of the district court."

A medical examiner determined the injury that proved fatal was the stab wound to the heart.

The victim's grandfather, Bob Pankow, said he's never seen such an outpouring of support, love and care from family and community members. He also said he feels badly for Bustos' parents because "they're suffering just as we are."

"They're going through the same thing," Pankow said. "We both lost a child."

Pankow said he's forgiven Bustos but doesn't want to see him out on the streets.

"I have no hate in my heart for him at all. None," Pankow said. "I hope the guy spends the rest of his days in prison."

Bustos is scheduled to face the charges in court on Sept. 7.

Contributing: Nicole Gonzales

e-mail: lgroves@desnews.com