PROVO — Charges were filed Friday against a 17-year-old boy accused of walking away from a center for troubled youth, robbing a home, stealing a car and causing the death of a woman in an automobile accident.
Prosecutors said they will ask that the teenager be certified and tried as an adult.
The boy, whose name was redacted from the charges, is from California and was charged in 4th District Juvenile Court Friday with manslaughter, burglary of a dwelling and theft of a motor vehicle, second-degree felonies, and fleeing, a third-degree felony. The teenager had been placed at the Provo Canyon School by California's Division of Child and Family Services, the charges state.
On May 20, the boy allegedly walked away from the school — "a private residential treatment center for youth" at 4501 N. University Avenue — and entered a home in the area. Homeowner Andrew Alger told the Deseret News he arrived home to find "this big, black kid wearing my clothes, standing in my bedroom."
Alger said the teenager was apologetic and said he hadn't taken anything but the clothes. But when asked to empty his pockets, the boy took out cash and Alger's spare car keys.
The man told the teenager to leave. Alger then called police, who later found clothes issued by the school in Alger's home.
According to the charges, the teenager then made his way into a parking garage where he found a Mercedes SUV with the keys inside.
"He stole that vehicle and drove back to the Provo Canyon School where he taunted staff and showed off for some fellow residents," the charges state. "Staff followed him as he drove away and they called the police."
Officers located the man and his vehicle later that night and tried to pull him over. The teenager continued on instead, "weaving in and out of traffic and refusing to stop for the police," the charges state.
He increased his speed as he drove through south Provo on University Avenue, prompting police to stop their chase. Near the I-15 interchange, police estimate he reached speeds of 100 mph.
"At that point, he struck the back of a car that was in a left turn lane, killing the female passenger and sending her husband, the driver, to the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center Intensive Care Unit," the charges state. "A third car was also damaged."
Alexandra Ogren, 65, of Mapleton, was killed in the crash.
The teen allegedly then fled on foot before he was apprehended by an off-duty police officer. The boy is currently being held in the Slate Canyon Youth Center.
Prosecutors say it is unclear where the teenager is from in California or where he was before being placed at the Provo Canyon School. "California DCFS is reportedly refusing to provide the juvenile court with any information, including social background about the defendant," the charges state.
Deputy Utah County attorney Paul Wake said his office has some information on the youth's background and felt that the interventions made in the past weren't getting through to the teen. That is one reason they think prosecuting him as an adult is the best option.
"One thing is that the charge itself is pretty serious," Wake said. "Someone died and that certainly weighs on it. Another thing is that, given the information we had on his background, it seemed a lot of effort had been put into him in California and he is still offending."
Wake said efforts to move him into the adult system "seemed like the appropriate decision to make in terms of protecting the community."