SALT LAKE CITY — A Vernal mother was charged Friday with shooting and killing her 2-year-old son while he was sitting in his car seat.

Valerie Stringham Peck, 40, is charged in Uintah County’s 8th District Court with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, and child abuse, a second-degree felony.

On Dec. 14, “after previously making plans to commit the act,” Peck took her 2-year-old son, Zack, to a camping area in Dry Fork Canyon and Red Cloud Loop Road, and after 20 to 30 minutes shot him with a .22 rifle while he was in his car seat, according to charging documents.

Peck also shot herself, then drove to another area of Uintah County, Fantasy Canyon, where officers responded after receiving multiple 911 calls, the charges state. Deputies found Peck and the deceased child and took her to the hospital. She was arrested after being treated for her wounds.

Peck shot herself twice in an apparent attempt to take her own life, according to a police affidavit. When that didn’t work, she drove to the canyon off state Route 45 to possibly “freeze to death.”

Prosecutors have requested Peck be held without bail.

She was charged in July with trespassing for an incident that happened at the Ashley Regional Medical Center in Vernal. After she was charged, Peck’s husband called the court and stated that his wife was dealing with mental health issues, court records state. Peck pleaded no contest to the charge in September.

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