SALT LAKE CITY — West Valley police officers pulled over a stolen vehicle Monday that had been speeding more than 100 mph. What they would soon discover is that inside the car were two brothers convicted of killing one of their own less than four years earlier.
The brothers had been released early — ironically because they had committed more crimes.
A 17-year-old boy inside the vehicle, Lawrence Boggs, had been shot several times and was critically injured, according to police.
Christopher Boggs, now 18, and his younger brother were two of the three boys convicted as teenagers in the death of West Valley police officer Cody Brotherson, 25. The trio were fleeing police in a stolen car — not their first of the night — at 3 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2016, when they hit and killed Brotherson.
Monday evening, West Valley police confirmed Lawrence Boggs was also wanted in connection with a shootout Saturday night inside a West Valley hotel.
Brotherson’s mother, Jenny Brotherson, who received a phone call Monday telling her what had happened, said she isn’t surprised.
“We’re still processing all the information we’ve gotten,” she told the Deseret News. “This is exactly what we predicted would be the case. We were sure their gang affiliation would continue.”
A juvenile court judge in 2017 called on Utah’s Juvenile Justice Services as she sentenced the teens to keep the Boggs brothers and a third teenager in custody “as long as possible,” which would have been until they turned 21. But the two brothers were kicked out of the juvenile court system and into the adult justice system after they were accused of engaging in two separate assaults while in juvenile detention facilities.
Once in the adult system, Christopher Boggs was released in April and his brother was released in May.
Monday’s shooting investigation began about 3 a.m. when officers were called to the area of 900 South and 1400 West on a report of shots fired. They arrived to find a handgun and a bullet in the road along with blood, according to Salt Lake police.
About the same time, detectives were notified that West Valley police had pulled over a stolen Lexus on Redwood Road near 3100 South that was traveling more than 100 mph, said West Valley police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku.
Inside the vehicle were the Boggs brothers, another 17-year-old boy and a 14-year-old boy, according to police.
“An occupant of the vehicle was found to have suffered several gunshot wounds prior to being stopped by police,” according to a police affidavit. “Evidence suggests the stolen vehicle being driven by (Christopher Boggs) was involved in the shooting in Salt Lake City.”
The victim had been shot several times in the torso, according to police. Lawrence Boggs was taken to a local hospital in critical condition and underwent surgery.
Salt Lake Police Sgt. Keith Horrocks said detectives were looking at whether the shooting was gang-related. Christopher Boggs was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of theft by receiving stolen property.
In the Saturday shootout, West Valley police said Lawrence Boggs was visiting someone at the Extended Stay hotel and got into an argument with another group. Over the weekend police said they believed gang members were attending a party at the hotel when they discovered members of a rival gang were also staying there.
“Mr. Boggs reportedly invited his own associates to also come to the hotel, after which, a fight with the rival group broke out that led to the gunfire incident. West Valley police were seeking to arrest Mr. Boggs for inciting a riot in connection with the incident,” police said in a prepared statement Monday.
When police arrived they were met by multiple people running from the building and found bullet holes in the door of the room where the shooting occured, bullet holes in the walls throughout the hallway nearby, and multiple firearms, West Valley police reported. A 17-year-old who was shot had been taken to a hospital by someone at the scene, and was listed in critical but stable condition.
Christopher Boggs was 15 in 2016 when he and his then-14-year-old brother and a 15-year-old friend were originally charged in juvenile court with murder. The three were fleeing from police when they hit Brotherson near the intersection of 4100 South and 2200 West as he attempted to deploy tire spikes.
At least one officer saw the teens’ vehicle swerve toward Brotherson, striking him and likely killing him on impact. But investigators were never able to prove which of the three had been driving.
Instead of staying in juvenile detention until the age of 21, Christopher Boggs was expelled from the juvenile justice system and charged as an adult in 2nd District Court with assault by a prisoner, a third-degree felony, in January. He got into a fight that appeared to be premeditated while in the gym at the Millcreek Youth Detention Center in Ogden with another resident, according to charging documents. He also fought with staff members trying to restrain him.
He was sentenced in March to a suspended five-year prison term and was instead ordered to serve six months in jail with credit for the time he had already served since his arrest — 55 days, according to court documents. He was released on April 17.
Lawrence Boggs was also charged in 2nd District Court with punching someone at the same Ogden juvenile detention center and was convicted in March 2019 of assault by a prisoner with gang enhancement, a second-degree felony. He was sentenced to serve one to 15 years in the Utah State Prison.
The younger Boggs was released on parole on May 28. According to the Utah Department of Corrections, the early release was in collaboration with the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole due to COVID-19 safety measures in order to open up more space in correctional facilities. When he had been in juvenile detention, he was serving time for manslaughter in Brotherson’s death.
Jenny Brotherson said Monday it was almost like the Boggs brothers “were rewarded” for committing more crimes.
“Clearly something has to change,” she said. “Hopefully this serves as a lesson.”
Brotherson believes the parole board should be paying more attention to the types of crimes people commit rather than focusing on details such as whether an inmate has a place to live once that inmate is released.
“Clearly, when these two brothers get together they tend to do criminal things,” she said.
Defense attorney Greg Skordas, who isn’t involved in the cases, said it’s ironic that committing more crimes ultimately led the two brothers being released back on the streets.
“They received punishment that has now allowed them to be paroled. They’re on the street even though — I know it’s sort of odd — had they not committed those crimes (assaults), they would still be in the state’s custody in the juvenile system,” Skordas said.
As Utah’s legal system currently stands, he said, once the teens were taken into the adult system, the sentences in the juvenile system involving the death of Brotherson were dismissed.
Contributing: Garna Mejia