OGDEN — A teenage girl accused of deliberately ramming a stolen SUV into another car, killing two people, admitted to one charge of attempted murder in juvenile court Wednesday.
The second charge will now be transferred to the adult system, where 17-year-old Marilee Gardner is expected to plead guilty.
Gardner was originally charged as an adult with two counts of murder, a first-degree felony, after police said she deliberately crashed her mother's SUV into another car in a suicide attempt last year.
The occupants of the other vehicle — Maddison Haan, 20, of West Point, and Tyler Christianson, 19, of Ogden — were killed on impact.
Charging documents alleged Gardner and a 17-year-old friend she was meeting planned on "purchasing drugs, taking the drugs and then crashing her mother's car with both of them inside in an attempt to kill themselves." Police said Gardner was driving almost 100 mph as she fled from them and slammed into the back of Haan and Christianson's car at an intersection.
Prosecutors announced in August that, in a plea deal that would allow Gardner to move into the care of the juvenile system until she gets older, the murder charges would be dismissed and refiled in juvenile court as allegations of attempted murder.
Utah statute specifies that murder charges for juveniles who are 16 or 17 years old are directly filed into district court. Gardner's attorneys argued unsuccessfully last year to move the case into the juvenile system.
Juvenile Judge Sherene Dillon ordered Gardner be confined in juvenile Secure Care, where she could potentially remain until her 21st birthday. When the adult sentence is handed down, Gardner faces at least three years and up to life in prison.
In the absence of a blended sentencing law in the state, similar plea deals spanning the juvenile and district courts have been struck in several other cases where juveniles have been accused of serious crimes.