VERNAL — A 23-year-old woman is facing a child abuse homicide charge in the alcohol-related death of a teenage boy.

Candice Collard is accused of being criminally negligent in the death of Jess "Micade" Horrocks. The Uintah County Attorney's Office has also filed an alternative charge of abuse or neglect of a disabled child against Collard.

The charges stem from an April 13 incident where a group of teens, including Horrocks, gained access to liquor stored in the office of a Vernal restaurant. According to Vernal Police Sgt. Bob Taylor, Horrocks consumed so much alcohol that he lost consciousness, prompting one of his friends to call Collard for help.

Taylor said when Collard arrived, she reportedly helped the teens load an incapacitated Horrocks into her car.

"Then, rather than seeking aid, she drives him 10 miles away to Jensen and puts him in a room where he dies," the sergeant said, noting that Ashley Regional Medical Center is located less than two miles from the spot where Collard is alleged to have picked the teens up.

Taylor said a man living at the Jensen residence where Horrocks died was the first person to call 911 after he came home early in the morning and found the unresponsive youth alone in a bedroom.

The sergeant said Collard initially provided investigators with a reasonable explanation for what had occurred, but later became "very evasive, very scared" after detectives "tripped her up on her time line."

Prosecutors spent more than three months reviewing the case before deciding to charge Collard, said Uintah Deputy County Attorney Greg Lamb. He said his office studied case law and reviewed state statute, determining that Horrocks could be considered temporarily disabled due to his level of intoxication, which opened the door for the abuse or neglect charge.

Lamb and Taylor both agree that the case is a unique application of the child abuse homicide statute. They also agree that both charges are warranted.

"She failed miserably in several areas that could have prevented his death," Taylor said. "It's a new case for us, just by the sheer mechanics of how this laid out, but we'll hopefully get some closure to this."

Collard is currently being held in the Utah County Jail on unrelated felony drug charges. Her initial court appearance on the child abuse homicide charge in Vernal's 8th District Court has not yet been scheduled.


E-mail: geoff@ubstandard.com