OGDEN — When Joshua Hoggan and Dallin Morgan were arrested for planning to bomb their high school, Morgan had just turned 18 the month before.
Hoggan — who had a bigger role in the plot — was 16. Both faced first-degree felony charges of use of a weapon of mass destruction. But Hoggan was charged in juvenile court, while Morgan faced charges in the stricter adult court.
"There was a co-defendant involved who remained in juvenile court," prosecutor Dean Saunders told 2nd District Judge Michael Lyon Thursday. "Mr. Morgan was much less culpable than that person. That person was allowed to remain in juvenile court. Mr. Morgan was 18 by one month."
Morgan pleaded no contest Thursday to an amended count of criminal mischief, a second-degree felony, in connection with a plot to bomb an assembly at Roy High School. Lyon ordered Morgan to spend 105 days in jail and up to 18 months on probation.
He is to report to the Weber County Jail Tuesday morning.
If Morgan pays a $500 fine and successfully completes probation, the charge will be reduced to a class A misdemeanor. Hoggan alone will pay restitution to the school.
A no-contest plea means that the individual does not admit guilt to the charges but is not willing to fight them through legal proceedings. For sentencing purposes, a no-contest plea is treated the same as a guilty plea.
"He feels a trial in this situation would be too risky," defense attorney Brenda Beaton said of the agreement.
Morgan and Hoggan were arrested in January after police say they developed an elaborate plan to bomb an assembly, targeting many Roy High students, because they "wanted revenge on the world."
Beaton said Morgan went to a store with Hoggan, helped pay for a "throwaway phone," and engaged in conversations with Hoggan about the plan. But she insisted her client did not know about threats Hoggan later made.
Hoggan sent a number of text messages detailing his plot. In one text, Hoggan warned a friend, "If I tell you one day not to go to school, make damn sure you and (name redacted) are not there," a police affidavit states.
"Dallin is in on it," another text message said. "He wants revenge on the world, too."
In another text, Hoggan wrote: "I've just been kinda planning my get back at the world thing and I figured if you had anyone you wanted revenge on, I could see if I have anything planned."
School administrators found a map of Roy High School that outlined where the school's cameras and blind spots are located. The two students had also purchased an advanced flight-simulator computer program and "logged hundreds of hours" on it, according to police. Investigators uncovered evidence that the two were learning to fly and intended to steal a plane from the Ogden Hinckley Airport after the attack and "fly to a country that they couldn't be extradited from."
Saunders said Thursday that the entire plan was "primarily initiated" by Hoggan. Morgan, who has no prior record, had a "much more minimal" role.
"I have discussed this (lesser role) with the school and police department," the prosecutor said. "Everybody is of the same mind."
Hoggan pleaded guilty in juvenile court to use of a weapon of mass destruction, a first-degree felony, as part of a plea bargain. He was sentenced in April to six months in a youth prison. Prosecutors withdrew their motion to certify the teenager as an adult.
Hoggan said he was fascinated by the 1999 Columbine shooting in Colorado and has always had a love of aviation. Two things, he said, that "tended to not go so well together."
Hoggan and his family said the bomb plot was a misguided attempt to raise awareness about safety concerns at the school.
Morgan did not comment Thursday in court, beyond answering the judge's questions. After the hearing, a large group of family members and other supporters left in a massive group, shielding Morgan's face from cameras by holding up white sheets of paper.
As part of the plea agreement, Morgan's probation may be terminated in a year to allow him to join the military. Beaton indicated she has talked to recruiters who told her there is a "good chance" he could be accepted to serve.
Saunders said he had no involvement with the resolution of Hoggan's case, but he tried to weigh the two cases.
"We tried to come up with a fair resolution," the prosecutor said. "(Morgan's) involvement was less. He was not the driving force. ... This defendant was 18 by one month, the co-defendant was still a juvenile. That person won't end up with an adult record."
It was a resolution everyone could agree on and it spoke to the gravity of what could have happened, he said. He applauded law enforcement's quick response to the threats.
"This was serious," Saunders said. "Who knows if they would ever would have gone through with this plan?"
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