PIUTE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – The 17-year-old Piute teenager who has been accused of shooting and killing a 16-year-old girl near Circleville, Utah, has been charged as an adult.
Francisco Daniel Aguilar has been charged with aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, and felony discharge of a firearm, all of which are first-degree felonies. He has also been charged with two counts of aggravated assault, a second-degree felony.
In the charging documents, police say Aguilar shot the girl, later identified as Jacqueline Nunez, in the leg while she was running away from his car toward another car driven by her friend. Aguilar also allegedly shot at her friend’s car, hitting the passenger side and shattering the window.
“[Aguilar] knowingly discharged a firearm in the direction of [the friend] while she was in her vehicle attempting to help [Nunez],” the court documents said. “He knew or had reason to believe that any individual may be endangered by the discharge of the firearm, and in so doing he caused serious bodily injury to any individual.”
The Nunez’s friend was reportedly forced to drive away and escape in order to avoid being injured or killed. Once the friend had left, police say Aguilar approached Nunez where she was lying, and allegedly shot her in the head, causing her death.
A statewide search for Aguilar’s vehicle was issued and police say he was eventually spotted just after 11 p.m. in Glenwood. A high-speed pursuit ensued when Aguilar allegedly fled, but police say they were able to spike his tires and was ultimately arrested just after 11:15 p.m.
According to court documents, Aguilar allegedly confessed to shooting and killing Nunez as well as shooting toward her friend.
While a hearing is typically held to determine if a minor is tried as an adult, under Utah law, 16 and 17-year-old’s are automatically charged as adults in homicide cases.
“Most states do have procedures and policies in place that older juveniles, for example, 16 and 17 year olds and in some states it’s younger in fact, who are charged with homicide are just automatically treated as an adult,” said Assistant Professor for the Department of Criminal Justice at Weber State University, Michelle Jeffs.
If Aguilar is convicted he will not face the death penalty. A landmark supreme court ruling in 2005 made it illegal to impose capital punishment on anyone under the age of 18.