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Teen charged in 'pink' deaths calls into hearing from treatment center

PARK CITY — A 15-year-old boy charged with drug distribution in connection with the "pink" overdose deaths of two 13-year-olds made his initial court appearance by phone on Friday.

The boy's attorney, Tara Isaacson, said he is currently in treatment.

The teenager is charged in 3rd District Juvenile Court with distribution of a controlled or counterfeit substance, a second-degree felony, and reckless endangerment, a class C misdemeanor.

Denials, the juvenile court equivalent of a not guilty plea, are being submitted on all the allegations, as well as for a charge of contempt stemming from a previous case.

The 15-year-old, who gave only yes or no answers during Friday's hearing, will next appear in court on Dec. 2 for a scheduling conference. The Deseret News has chosen not to identify him at this time.

Deputy Summit County attorney Patricia Cassell said prosecutors don't intend to push for the case to be certified for adult court.

Charges in the case are tied to the deaths of Grant Seaver and his friend, Ryan Ainsworth, who were found dead within 48 hours of each other in September. Toxicology findings released Thursday confirmed the two boys, both Treasure Mountain Junior High students, died of "acute drug intoxication of U-47700, the synthetic opioid known as 'pink.'"

According to two search warrant affidavits unsealed last month, the 15-year-old, along with another teen, ordered the then-legal substance online from China and had it mailed to a friend's house. The package, which was shipped from Shanghai, China, contained "a clear bag containing a white powder substance," the affidavit states.

The second 15-year-old boy investigated in the warrants has not been charged.

At the time of the boys' deaths, Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter said investigators immediately started looking into pink due to social media conversations pointing to the drug.

Park City police and the school district sent out warnings to parents concerning the synthetic opioid. Police searched lockers at the middle school while school officials set up a system to keep track of other at-risk students.

As of Oct. 7, U-47700 became a Schedule I drug in the United States, meaning it has no known medical beneficial purpose. Because Utah law does not address U-47700, prosecutors are arguing that the teen distributed a controlled substance analog.

"It has to be similar chemically or have the same effects as a regular controlled substance," Cassell explained.

Cassell did not discuss other details of the case, including whether the 15-year-old allegedly sold the drug to the teens or simply gave it to them.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: McKenzieRomero