Grantsville killings: Bail set at $4 million for 16-year-old boy charged with shooting, killing mom and siblings
Initial hearing comes as Utah lawmaker considers whether murder charges for older juveniles should be automatically filed in the adult system
TOOELE — A judge on Monday set bail at $4 million for the 16-year-old Grantsville boy accused of waiting for each of his family members to come home and then shooting and killing his mother and three siblings.
Colin Jeffery “CJ” Haynie, is charged as an adult with four counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted aggravated murder, and five counts of discharge of a firearm. All of the charges are first-degree felonies.
During an initial appearance in Tooele’s 3rd District Court Monday, Judge Dianna Gibson ordered the shackled teen to remain in a juvenile detention facility and appointed him a public defender.
“This set of circumstances, it’s horrific,” the teen’s attorney Richard Van Wagoner told reporters outside the courthouse. His client is due back in court Feb. 4.
Haynie’s father and older brother attended Monday’s hearing but made no public comment.
The court appearance comes three days after Haynie’s family members were laid to rest. A Friday funeral service in Grantsville honored the lives of his mother, Consuelo Alejandra Haynie, 52; sisters Alexis Haynie, 15, and Milan Haynie, 12; and brother Matthew Haynie, 14.
If convicted of the first-degree felony charges, Haynie faces a maximum sentence of at least 25 years and up to life in prison. Utah law does not permit juvenile offenders to face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Prosecutors say Haynie stayed home from school on Jan. 17, a Friday, and carried out the deadly violence starting about 1 p.m., shooting and killing his mother and siblings over the course of the afternoon as they returned home.
CJ’s father, Colin Haynie, later arrived home and was shot in the leg before he was able to wrestle the handgun away from his son. The teenager told his dad “his intention was to kill everyone in the house except himself,” charging documents state.
A neighbor, unaware of what had happened, dropped by the house and agreed to drive the father and son to a hospital, where police said they arrived to find the boy calm but uncooperative with their investigation.
In announcing criminal charges for the boy last week, Tooele County Attorney Scott Broadhead said the killings did not appear to be a case of “I snapped.”
At the Friday funeral service, the slain mother, originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, was described as a talented cook and gardener who was quick to help others. Her children were remembered as close-knit and fiercely protective of each other. In addition to their father, they are survived by the family’s oldest son, Danny Haynie, a Utah Valley University student.
Monday also was the first day of the 2020 Legislature. Utah lawmakers acknowledged the slayings as they convened at the state Capitol.
”It’s a hard way to put your little town in the headlines,” said Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville. “Certainly a loss of innocence.”
In Utah, murder charges for defendants 16 and older are automatically filed in the state’s adult system, rather than in the juvenile court, which prioritizes rehabilitation over punishment. One stake lawmaker is seeking to change that.
Rep. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara, is working on a bill that would direct juvenile judges to decide whether a murder case should be handled in the adult system. Under Snow’s proposal, a judge could potentially retain a case in juvenile court and a young offender could remain in the state’s custody until age 25.
“I just believe that when you’re dealing with youth offenders, that the court should be able to look at all the factors involved, rather than having an automatic application of law,” Snow said.
Brett Peterson, the director of Utah Juvenile Justice Services, agreed, noting the teenage brain isn’t fully developed. He said Oregon, Washington and California have taken similar approaches.
Currently in Utah, Peterson said, many youth offenders who are tried in the adult system are sent to prison but later released on parole, so they end up making their way back into society. But treatment in the juvenile system is more robust than in prison and more closely tailored to an offender’s specific needs, he said, driving down the risk of repeat offenses. The pending bill has not yet met with public opposition.