A bill that would allow prosecutors to automatically try a 15-year-old as an adult for murdering a police officer narrowly passed a Utah House committee on Tuesday.
House Bill 190, sponsored by Republican Representative Mike Winder stems from the 2016 murder of West Valley City Police officer Cody Brotherson. Three juveniles, who were also alleged gang members fatally hit Brotherson with their car during a high-speed chase. Brotherson was trying to lay down road spikes to stop them. All three teens were sentenced to a secure juvenile detention facility until age 21-the maximum punishment possible. Brotherson’s mother Jenny testified in favor of the bill. She said the sentence was far too lenient.
“I’ve heard and read the comments about Cody’s murderers and they're deserving of a future,” Brotherson said. “But what people seem to have forgotten is these juveniles stole Cody’s future from him.”
Opponents of the bill say it should be up to the juvenile court judge to determine whether an offender should be tried as an adult. They also cite studies that show laws that move juveniles to the adult system are ineffective at deterring crime and reducing recidivism.