SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah teenager is mentally fit to stand trial on charges of luring a 12-year-old neighbor from her home and killing her, a judge said Friday.
The 17-year-old has more than one mental disorder or intellectual disability, but after months of treatment, he’s now able to understand court proceedings enough to face aggravated murder and child rape charges, Judge James Michie decided.
Exact details about the teen’s mental health have not been made public. Defense attorneys have long questioned whether he is mentally fit for trial.
Lawyer Michael Sikora didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.
The judge will next decide whether the teen should be tried as an adult or remain in juvenile court. Prosecutors have said they want him tried as an adult due to the seriousness of the allegations.
He is charged in the July 2015 death of Kailey Vijil. He lured her from her home by asking for help looking for a lost cat before he sexual assaulted and strangled her, charges say.
Her body was found with a shirt wrapped around her neck in an overgrown horse pasture near their neighborhood in West Valley City.
Police have said the teen also tried to lure at least one other neighborhood girl from her home earlier that night. He was 15 at the time.
The Associated Press typically does not name juveniles who are accused of crimes.