SALT LAKE CITY -- A juvenile court judge has ruled a 17-year-old boy accused of raping and killing a 12-year-old West Valley City girl is mentally competent to proceed toward a trial.
In a ruling handed down Friday, 3rd District Juvenile Court Judge James Michie said the teen "suffers from one or more mental disorders, intellectual disabilities or related conditions."
"Despite these limitations, the overall preponderance of the evidence has shown that he has attained legal and adequate sufficient degree of competence to proceed," the judge said, announcing his ruling.
The teen, whom FOX 13 is not naming because he is a juvenile, is accused of luring Kailey Vijil from her home in 2015, sexually assaulting her and strangling her. Kailey's body was found in a field.
Since then, the case has made its way through the courts with concerns about the teen's mental health.
Judge Michie said the legal standard is that the boy understands the nature of the criminal charges against him and can assist in his defense. He would not say what the boy has been diagnosed with. A pair of court hearings surrounding that were conducted behind closed doors.
The boy will next face a preliminary hearing, where the judge will decide if there is enough evidence to face trial. If he is bound over for trial, then Judge Michie must decide if it is in juvenile court or in the adult court system.
Speaking to reporters outside of court, Kailey's father, Orlando Vijil, said he was pleased to see the case moving forward. He wore a T-shirt that said "Justice for Kailey" with a photo taken just a few weeks before her death.
"I don't think there was any winners. We are both going through the same thing," he said, referring to the teen's family. "There's nothing to celebrate here."