OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – In Weber County, a teen facing charges for the murder of the Ogden grocery store owner could be facing a life sentence in prison, if he’s charged as an adult.
Just a week ago, the Ogden Super Grocery owner Satnam Singh was shot and killed at work. Now, a lot is going on behind the ‘legal’ scenes of the case, with the Weber County Attorney’s office since the murder suspect is only 15 years old.
“It’s a homicide that was committed during a course of an armed robbery, which under Utah law makes it what we called an aggravated murder, aggravated murder is crime that can carry life imprisonment or the death penalty,” says Greg Skordas a defense attorney and former prosecutor.
While someone under the age of 18 doesn’t apply to the death penalty, Greg Skordas says a crime like this is taken very seriously in Utah.
“Right now, they seem to be leaning toward going through what we call ‘the certification process’ to have the offender charged as an adult,” says Skordas.
If he’s charged as an adult, Skordas says he would be subject to adult penalties, which could put him away for 20 years, to life.
“He’ll remain in juvenile custody until the age of at least 18 and perhaps up to the age of 21, and then he’ll be housed with adult offenders,” says Skordas.
But Skordas says 14 and 15-year-olds can also be tried in juvenile court, which in this case, could put him away for 10 years.
“And the juvenile court can maintain jurisdiction over a young offender, up until the age of 25,” says Skordas.
Skordas says factors like the suspect’s prior history in the court system and level of education could weigh in on that decision.
“His ability to perceive things the same an adult would and just other factors in his life that weigh more toward taking him in the adult system where the punishment could be much more severe or leaving him in the juvenile system where the punishment is still severe, but where there’s sort of a light at the end of the tunnel,” says Skordas.
According to Skordas, the Weber County Attorney will also listen to the wishes of the Satnam Singh family when making a decision on that murder suspect’s charges. The case is then brought to the juvenile parole board or the adult parole board and the courts, to make the final decision on the murder suspect’s incarceration.