Eighth District Juvenile Judge Merrill Hermansen has set a hearing for next Friday to determine whether the case of a Vernal teenager accused of murdering a 6-year-old girl will be returned to juvenile court.
Adult charges of first-degree murder, child kidnapping and aggravated child sexual abuse have been filed against Roger Dale Strunk, 16, in the Aug. 7 slaying of Veronica Fitzen.Hermansen set the hearing date Friday during a conference call with Assistant Utah Attorney General Creighton Horton and court-appointed defense attorney Kirk Bennett.
Under state law, adult charges can be filed against a juvenile 15 or older in cases of capital murder and other serious crimes. If Hermansen decides to remand the case to juvenile court, Horton said prosecutors "undoubtedly" would move for a hearing to certify the defendant as an adult.
Horton declined to comment further, noting that 8th District Judge Dennis Draney had ordered attorneys not to discuss the case.
Strunk is accused of abducting, molesting and then strangling the Fitzen girl, who disappeared from her yard Aug. 7.
Strunk is being held without bail in the Uintah County Jail, where he has been separated from other prisoners for his own protection.
Draney has scheduled a preliminary hearing for Sept. 9.