SALT LAKE CITY -- A 15-year-old boy accused of killing 12-year-old Kailey Vijil appeared in juvenile court to face a new charge accusing him of first-degree felony rape of a child.
Appearing in handcuffs, Third District Juvenile Court Judge James Michie told the boy why he was shackled.
"I know you’re not used to being restrained when you come into court and I know you’ve asked why you’re restrained today. Because of the serious nature of the charges, that’s why I’ve ordered you be restrained," he explained.
The teen is accused of luring Kailey from her West Valley City home last month, raping her and strangling her. The girl's body was found in a field.
During Thursday's court hearing, Judge Michie tried to explain to the boy the seriousness of the new charges of first-degree felony aggravated murder and rape of a child.
"It’s a big deal, do you understand that?" he asked the teen.
"Yes," the boy mumbled.
Because he is a boy, he could not face the death penalty if he were to be convicted of the charges. Salt Lake County prosecutors have asked that he be tried as an adult, launching a series of court steps where the judge would determine if he were to be certified to the adult system.
If convicted in adult court, the boy faces a possible sentence of life without the possibility of parole. If he were to remain in the juvenile system, he can only be detained until 21, if convicted.
"The judge will listen to all the evidence and make the determination whether or not he should be tried as an adult and certified," said deputy Salt Lake County District Attorney Patricia Cassell.
The boy's lawyers raised questions about his mental competency. Speaking to the judge, they said there were medical records documenting ADHD, but they questioned his mental state. Judge Michie asked if they were planning to file papers seeking a competency evaluation. Defense attorneys indicated they might.
The boy was ordered to return to court on Oct. 15.