OGDEN — A teenager accused of shooting and killing an Ogden grocer during a robbery will remain in a youth detention center for at least another month.
The 15-year-old boy, whom the Deseret News has chosen not to name at this time, was arraigned Thursday in Ogden’s 2nd District Juvenile Court. He’s facing charges of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery, both first-degree felonies, in the Feb. 28 death of Satnam Singh, 65.
The teen spoke little in the brief online hearing and appeared off camera, replying, “Yes, your honor,” in response to questions from the judge. His mother also attended the hearing virtually.
Defense attorney Ron Nichols said the teenager’s family and defense lawyers don’t object to him being held in the youth facility ahead of a preliminary hearing in the case.
Second District Juvenile Judge Debra Jensen, however, said she’ll evaluate his detention status sooner at a hearing on April 8.
The boy is accused of walking into the Super Grocery convenience store, 675 N. Monroe Blvd., and firing four times, hitting Singh twice just before midnight on Feb. 28.
Surveillance video shows the suspected gunman wearing a blue surgical mask, black gloves and a gray Oakland Raiders hoodie.
The boy picked up a drink and a candy bar before going to the counter, according to charging documents filed in 2nd District Juvenile Court.
“At the counter, the male pulled a gun, pointed it at the clerk ... told him, ‘This is a stick up’ and then pulled the trigger four times, striking (Singh) twice, killing him,” the charges state.
The boy then ran out of the store.
On March 2, Ogden police “were called to a local residence on a report of a juvenile disturbance.” The charging documents do not say what kind of disturbance was happening. But when officers arrived, they were informed that a 15-year-old boy who was present was responsible for the fatal shooting.
“Law enforcement retrieved the hoodie, sweats (worn in the store), and gun and the juvenile was interviewed,” the charges state.
When questioned by police, the boy stated that he entered the store with the intention of robbing it, “and had fired his gun when (Singh) moved away from the counter,” according to the charges. “He admitted to planning the robbery because he did not have as much cash as he wanted. He acknowledged that he had smoked THC prior to the day of this event but that he stopped smoking so he could be sober for the robbery.”
The boy told investigators that he purchased a gun “from an individual,” but would not disclose who that person was, investigators wrote in the charges.
The 15-year-old has committed no prior felony crimes in the juvenile system, according to court records.
Weber County Attorney Chris Allred told the Deseret News this week that evidence collected so far doesn’t point to a hate crime. The teenager shot Singh four times, Allred said.
His defense attorneys have filed motions to close all future court proceedings in the murder case to the public. In response, attorneys on behalf of the Deseret News argued in court filings that the hearings should be open, while calling Singh’s killing “a matter of significant public interest and concern.”
A hearing on those arguments is scheduled for March 19.
The boy could also be certified to stand trial on the same charges in the adult system. No hearing to certify the teen as an adult was scheduled as of Thursday.
Deputy Weber County attorney Letitia Toombs said it could take six to eight weeks for results of a blood test to come back from a lab.
While a conviction of aggravated murder carries a possible death sentence for adults, Utah prohibits capital punishment or a sentence of life without parole for those convicted of carrying out the crime while a minor.
Those who knew Singh, originally from India’s Punjab state, have recalled him as a generous businessman who cared deeply about others in the northern Utah community.
The Sikh Society of Utah is mourning the loss of Singh, describing him as “a dedicated Sikh who exhibited a lifetime of faith, love and compassion, not only to the Sikh congregation, but to his friends, customers and the Ogden community.”