PROVO After walking out of a Provo courtroom, the mother of 12-year-old Bridger Hunt wrapped her arms around the man whose homemade fireworks had nearly severed her son's leg and told him they're not angry.
"He really is OK, and I am OK," Mindy Carter Shaw, Bridger's mother, whispered to Craig Miller as they embraced. "I want you to know I don't feel any anger at all. We're gonna be OK. I don't think you need to be made an example."
Tuesday afternoon was Miller's first time in 4th District Court to face three felony charges for the July 24 explosion.
What was supposed to be a homemade fountain with sparkles and smoke somehow exploded and launched shrapnel into Bridger who was 30 feet away on his bike.
Bridger was flown to Primary Children's Medical Center, where he has endured numerous surgeries, medical comas and infections. Tuesday, Shaw called his progress a miracle.
"I got my baby back," she said. She spends her days with Bridger, whose newest task is trying to stand up on one leg. He also talks incessantly and keeps Shaw busy making juice runs.
Doctors have told the family they won't be leaving the hospital this month, but Shaw said she's enjoying the time with her son, day in and day out.
"He's very clear with me that he's not upset," she said. "He sees the scars, he sees the open wound, he sees the staples. It doesn't bother him. He's fine with it."
Miller, who was within three feet of the explosion, was not seriously injured, except for burns on his face.
Defense attorney Mark Ethington spoke for Miller after the hearing, saying they were pleased to hear that Bridger was recovering well.
"That's the thing we're most concerned about," Ethington said. "(Bridger's) health and welfare."
Miller also entered a not-guilty plea Tuesday, a standard procedure, Ethington said.
Ethington will be meeting with prosecutors about a potential resolution, calling the charges "excessive."
Shaw also finds the charges excessive, and even Bridger told her that he "didn't want that man to be in trouble," she said.
"It's OK to forgive and not to hate," she said. "It doesn't do any good for Bridger or me."
During the emotional hug, Shaw told Miller she would be talking to prosecutors about leniency.
"It doesn't help anyone if you go to jail," she whispered.
Prosecutor John Nielsen said the Utah County Attorney's Office is not interested in vindictiveness or making someone an example; however, their view is a bit wider than that of the victims'.
"The scope of our concern encompasses public safety, deterrents for criminal (behavior)," Nielsen said.
Miller's charges are possession or control of an explosive or incendiary device, a second-degree felony, as well as child abuse and obstruction of justice, both third-degree felonies.
Nielsen made a technical amendment to the obstruction of justice charge Tuesday, which only changes a section of the code for the case, nothing relating to the severity or type of charge, he said.
Nielsen couldn't comment on the reasons behind the obstruction of justice charge.Miller will be in court again for a waiver hearing Sept. 30.
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