LOGAN, Utah - A judge has sentenced the second teen who pleaded guilty to shooting Deserae Turner to the maximum sentence of 15 years to life Wednesday.
Seventeen-year-old Jayzon Decker, who was 16 at the time, helped 16-year-old Colter Danny Peterson lure Turner to a Smithfield trail last February with plans to kill her with a knife.
Before his ruling, 1st District Judge Brian Cannell heard from both sides. Jayzon Decker’s mother, Billie Jean Decker, pleaded for mercy.
“There are no words to express the pain in my heart…I have taught him right from wrong," Billie Jean Decker said. "He knows right from wrong and why he made this choice I do not know. I may never know."
Decker pleaded guilty to the attempted aggravated murder of Deserae Turner in December. Last February, she was shot in the back of the head at point-blank range and left in a Smithfield canal to die.
Decker didn’t pull the trigger, but he’s been called the mastermind. He addressed the courtroom during his sentencing.
“I really don’t know what to say besides I’m sorry for the things I’ve done and the pain that I’ve caused,” Jayzon Decker said.
Prosecutors say he planned the brutal attack and even kept a bullet shell casing as a memento. It’s something Deserae’s mother, April, addressed in court Wednesday.
“I don’t know how somebody can display a shell as a trophy when it means they killed,” says April Turner.
Against all odds, Deserae Turner survived, but as her father Matt Turner describes, it’s been anything but easy.
“Deserae has a life sentence," Matt Turner said. "My family has a life sentence of reliving all the thoughts, the fears, and nightmares each and every day and night."
She still has the bullet in her skull and numerous, lifelong injuries. In court, Deserae addressed Decker and repeated a line that has become her catchphrase.
“You should’ve known not to mess with me because I’m tougher than a bullet. Welcome to hell. I’ve been here for a year now,” says Deserae Turner.
Outside court, Deserae spoke to the media and expressed some regret.
“Last week when I spoke in court I told Colter that I hated him," she said. "I’ve thought a lot about these words and this is not who I am."
However, most of all, she expressed hope.
“A lot of people say my story is heartbreaking and indeed it is, but this is only a chapter in my life," she said. "My life can and will get better. I’m going to have a happy ending."
Hope for a future, smiling as she closes the final chapter of this horrific story.
As part of a plea deal, the judge agreed to drop an aggravated robbery charge and three other charges for obstruction of justice.
A judge sentenced Peterson to 15 years to life in prison on Feb. 1, 2018.