SALT LAKE CITY — A 16-year-old boy charged more than a year ago in the fatal drive-by shooting of a Taylorsville woman was recently moved into the Adult Detention Facility despite objections from his defense attorneys.

Koak Pal Biel, now 18, of Kearns, is charged in 3rd District Court with murder, a first-degree felony, and six counts of discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony.

The judge in his case also declined to dismiss the charges against Biel and declined to force prosecutors to reveal information about the case’s lead detective, who defense attorneys say is “potentially under criminal investigation.”

On July 10, 2018, police say documented gang members drove by a residence at 4929 S. 1950 West and sprayed the house with bullets. At least one of those shots went through a window, striking Jawnie Wey, 48, in the head as she sat on a couch. She died nine days later.

Investigators believe Biel was the gunman. Another man, Euziel De La Torre, 20, of West Jordan, who is believed to be the driver and the man who had an ongoing dispute with some of the occupants of the residence, is also charged with murder.

On Oct. 21, Biel was moved from juvenile detention into the Salt Lake County Jail.

Biel’s attorneys had asked 3rd District Judge James Blanch to keep their client in the juvenile facility, and then filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider his decision after he denied their request. The defense argued that putting the 18-year-old in adult jail will add to his anxiety and pressure and would be oppressive. His attorneys also argued that Biel was making progress with his high school classes while being held in juvenile detention.

The defense also filed a motion on Oct. 9 asking for the case to be dismissed because Biel has been incarcerated for more than a year and the case has twice been scheduled to go to trial only to be postponed.

“The delay in this case has been both unreasonable and unconstitutional. The delay in this case has been unduly long, resulting in prejudice to Mr. Biel by oppressive pretrial incarceration and increased anxiety and concern for Mr. Biel, the reason for the delay is entirely attributable to the prosecution, and Mr. Biel has objected to both continuances, asserting his right to speedy trial,” the defense wrote in its motion.

The defense also argued that although Biel is now a legal adult, his brain is still developing.

“Even being held in the Juvenile Detention Center for over a year, Mr. Biel has been forced to grow up in custody, which could have untold ramifications on his emotional and physical development,” the defense motion states.

But prosecutors countered that calling Biel a 16-year-old doesn’t paint an accurate picture, as he turned 17 just 18 days after he was charged. Furthermore, while the defense may be concerned about the influences on Biel while in the Salt Lake County Jail, juvenile detention officials are worried about the influence of Biel on younger offenders in their facility.

But the bottom line, prosecutors argued, is that moving Biel into the jail when he’s 18 is simply the law.

Blanch agreed with the state, saying that Biel is no longer a juvenile. He denied motions to dismiss the case as well as the motion to reconsider his decision to place Biel in the county jail.

The judge also decided that even though it has been a year, the case has been moving along at a reasonable pace, especially for a murder trial.

“The court believes there has not been excessive delay in this case,” he said in a recording of the hearing.

Blanch noted that the two delays in the trial were not due to any shortcomings of prosecutors. One of the delays was because a key witness had fled the state in order to avoid testifying.

Still, the judge emphasized during Biel’s last hearing on Oct. 21 that a four-day trial, scheduled to begin on Jan. 6, will proceed on schedule.

The judge also declined to reduce Biel’s $1 million bail.

Another defense motion that was rejected by Blanch was to make the state reveal more information about by the lead detective in the case, Unified police officer Skee Afatasi. He was placed on administrative leave in September and “is potentially under criminal investigation,” according to the motion.

In his denial, Blanch said he had spoken in private with prosecutors about Afatasi and determined that the officer being placed on administrative leave has nothing to do with the Biel case.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office told the Deseret News it did not plan to call Afatasi as a witness during the trial and that the officer being placed on leave would not affect their case.

The Unified Police Department confirmed that Afatasi is on leave but declined to provide any other details.

Both sides are now fighting over prior statements made by a witness in the case who has since recanted his story, according to court documents, and whether it should be admitted in court.