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Teen charged with bringing backpack bomb to school pleads not guilty

Martin Ryan Farnsworth, 16, appears in 5th District Court in St. George on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, over a video feed. A southern Utah teenager has pleaded not guilty to charges he tried to set off a homemade backpack bomb at a St. George high school.
Martin Ryan Farnsworth, 16, appears in 5th District Court in St. George on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, over a video feed. A southern Utah teenager has pleaded not guilty to charges he tried to set off a homemade backpack bomb at a St. George high school.
Marc Weaver, Deseret News

ST. GEORGE — A southern Utah teenager has pleaded not guilty to charges he tried to set off a homemade backpack bomb at a St. George high school.

Martin Ryan Farnsworth, 16, entered the pleas Wednesday in 5th District Court in St. George to charges of attempted murder and of using a weapon of mass destruction, first-degree felonies. If he is convicted, each charge carries a potential sentence of at least five years and up to life in prison.

A juvenile court judge last week ordered the teen to face the charges as an adult following several hearings with testimony from Farnsworth's parents and experts.

Farnsworth's attorney has said the teen would likely respond to counseling and argued the case should remain in the juvenile system. Prosecutors countered that the teen intended to cause death and sought for him to face the charges in district court.

No injuries were reported in March when Pine View High School in St. George was evacuated. Students had discovered a smoking backpack, allegedly prepared and left by Farnsworth.

The teen is charged with two misdemeanors related to a separate incident at Hurricane High School, where he is accused of painting "ISIS is comi--" on a school wall, cutting up an American flag there and replacing it with a makeshift ISIS flag. The charges in that case remain in the juvenile system.

He is due back in court Aug. 22, when a possible resolution could be reached in the case.