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Teen agrees to plea deal in violent assault of jogger, attorney says

WEST JORDAN — A teenager accused of sexually assaulting and attempting to strangle a 50-year-old jogger after she was dragged into a ravine has agreed to a plea deal, his attorney said Thursday.

The 16-year-old boy has done "a lot of soul-searching" over the past five months he has spent in detention, receiving visits from clergy, his mom and his sister, defense attorney William Russell said Thursday in 3rd District Juvenile Court.

"Things appear to be going quite well under the circumstances," Russell said.

The jogger, who testified in June that the boy told her "you will die today" and dragged her farther away from a trail in Dimple Dell Park as she tried to free herself, approved the terms of a plea bargain for the boy, according to prosecutors.

"We have consulted extensively with the victim and her family, and she wants this case resolved," said Coral Sanchez-Rose, deputy Salt Lake County district attorney.

In June, the woman testified that she stopped to help the boy on March 19 after he asked to use her phone, but he beat her when she tried to get it back, sexually assaulted her and at one point tried to shove a shard from a glass bottle into her eye. The DNA results from the woman's rape kit matched the teen, a detective previously testified.

On Thursday, the teen sat next to his attorneys with his head down. The Deseret News has chosen not to identify him at this time.

In a deal that the attorneys described in court, the teen is expected to agree later this month to plead guilty in adult court to a charge of aggravated sexual assault. The first-degree felony carries a sentence of at least 15 years to life in prison, but prosecutors said they will recommend a minimum of 10 years.

The boy also is expected to plead guilty to aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony, in the juvenile system.

In exchange for those guilty pleas, remaining charges against the teen would be dismissed, including attempted aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery, all first-degree felonies.

The boy remains in a juvenile detention facility. He is expected to enter the pleas on Aug. 28. If he agrees to take the plea bargain, it was unclear Thursday how long he would likely remain in juvenile detention before moving into the adult system.

Those who have experienced sexual abuse or assault can get assistance from Utah's statewide 24-hour Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Line at 888-421-1100.