OGDEN Diego Mora's attorney has repeatedly explained to him the benefits of taking a plea deal.
But the 16-year-old, self-professed gang member wants to take his chances before a jury later this month, standing trial on a first-degree felony murder charge.
"You understand the risk that you could do a lot more in prison?" Mora's defense attorney, Roy Cole, asked him during a court hearing here in 2nd District Court on Tuesday.
"Yes," Mora replied.
On Sept. 29, Mora will go on trial for the Sept. 21, 2007, death of Jesus Aparicio, 22. Weber County prosecutors said Mora, who was 15 at the time, got into a fight with Aparicio in the parking lot of a Kicks 66 gas station. Mora is accused of shooting Aparicio in the back as the man tried to run away.
Police said that just weeks before, Mora participated in a convenience store robbery. He will face trial on that charge at a later date, prosecutors said.
In court, Mora still looks like a boy, with fuzzy hair and a wisp of a moustache. He was handcuffed and wore an orange Weber County Inmate jumpsuit.
Prosecutors were successful in getting him certified as an adult to face the charges.
Mora has rejected a pair of plea deals. This latest offer would have him pleading guilty to first-degree felony murder and a reduced robbery charge.
Prosecutors would recommend his sentences run concurrent at 15-to-life. Cole said he explained the benefits and why it would be in Mora's best interest to take the deal. Mora told the judge he still wants a trial.
Cole asked the judge to allow him to submit instructions that would allow the jury to find Mora guilty of a lesser offense, such as manslaughter, if he were to be convicted.
Approximately 40 potential jurors will be called for the trial. That number will be whittled down to nine, said Judge Pamela Heffernan.
"This has gotten a fair amount of publicity," she said.
E-MAIL: [email protected]