‘Suicide pact’ teen accused of murder in Roy will face charges as adult

Posted at 3:03 PM, Sep 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-08 18:25:57-04

SALT LAKE CITY - A judge ruled Thursday a teen facing murder charges for a crash that killed two people in Roy will be tried as an adult.

Despite being just 16 years old, Marilee Gardner is facing two counts of first-degree murder.

20-year-old Maddison Haun and 19-year-old Tyler Christianson

20-year-old Maddison Haun and 19-year-old Tyler Christianson

Back in June, Gardner allegedly drove her parents' SUV, at nearly 100 mph, into the back of a Hyundai sedan.

The two people inside that car, 20-year-old Maddison Haun and 19-year-old Tyler Christianson, were killed on impact.

"She basically drove her car like a freight train and ran into the back of theirs and they are the ones that paid the price at the end of the day," Deputy Weber Count Attorney Braden Miles said.

Officers said Gardener tried running from the scene but was quickly captured.

Detectives said Gardner told them she and a teen friend had a suicide pact.

20-year-old Maddison Haun and 19-year-old Tyler Christianson were killed on impact.

20-year-old Maddison Haun and 19-year-old Tyler Christianson were killed on impact.

She admitted to stealing her parents' SUV and said she was planning to pick up that friend, they were going to take drugs and then smash the vehicle in an attempt to kill themselves.

Detectives said the friend allegedly backed out and Gardner then crashed into a random car, killing Haun and Christianson.

Thursday her attorneys argued it is unconstitutional to try a 16-year-old suspect for murder in an adult court.

They said Gardner should be tried in a juvenile court.

However, prosecutors said Utah legislators already "drew a line."

"The legislature has clearly made a determination, that the oldest juveniles who commit the most serious crimes are subject to more serious punishment than juveniles who commit crimes in a similar fashion," Miles said.

If Gardner is tried and convicted of the murders in juvenile court, she would be set free at age 21.

16-year-old Marilee Gardner

16-year-old Marilee Gardner

"A defendant who caused that should escape with only five years punishment seems grossly disproportionate," Miles said.

The judge determined the case will remain in adult court Thursday.

However, he said if Gardner is convicted, he may revisit the age issue at the time of sentencing.

Gardner could face 15 years to life in prison.

The next hearing is set for Oct. 19.

Her attorneys said they may appeal Thursday's ruling.