SALT LAKE CITY — A bill seeking to close a legal loophole in Utah law that allowed two juvenile brothers convicted in the death of a West Valley police officer to be released early won unanimous approval from the Utah House of Representatives on Wednesday.
HB67 now advances to the Senate for consideration.
The vote came after the mother of Cody Brotherson, a 25-year-old officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2016, testified in a House committee last week, telling of how it was “both shocking and painful to be told that both brothers had essentially been rewarded for their additional crimes.”
Christopher Boggs, now 18, and his younger brother Lawrence Boggs were two of the three boys convicted as teenagers in Brotherson’s death. 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 the officer.
Both Boggs brothers were later expelled from juvenile detention and sent into the adult justice system after committing assaults, but they were released from jail shortly afterward.
If they hadn’t committed those assaults and been sent to the adult system, they would have stayed in detention until they were 21, bill sponsor Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, said.
They were later arrested again after police said they committed new crimes, including a shooting.
“This was a tragic story. It deeply impacted not only the family of officer Brotherson, but the entire community,” Hall said Wednesday on the House floor, telling of how 4100 South in West Valley City is now called Cody Brotherson Parkway.
Hall’s bill would clarify that the juvenile system can still keep a youth in its own detention center after pleading guilty of a crime in the adult system, and allows for coordination between youth and adult parole authorities.
It also allows judges to decide whether a young defendant can chip away at an adult sentence while in the youth system, or whether the sentences should be consecutive, meaning additional time in jail or prison is needed upon a youth’s release from detention.
Rep. Lowry Snow, R-St. George, expressed “strong support” for the bill and urged lawmakers to fix the “deficiency” in Utah law.
“This one was particularly sobering,” Snow said. “It would have been better if it had been caught earlier, but we’re catching it now.”