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15-year-old accused of sexually assaulting 50-year-old faces victim in court

Posted at 6:25 PM, Jun 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-19 22:40:23-04

SANDY, Utah - The juvenile suspect accused of a brutal sexual assault in Sandy in March faced his victim in court Tuesday.

The 50-year-old victim described the attack to the judge, who determined there is enough evidence to support the allegations. Due to the judge's orders, Fox 13 will not be identifying the victim. The suspect will also not be identified because he's only 15-years-old.

Travis Jones was walking his dogs at Dimple Dell Park in the early afternoon of March 19 when he saw a woman wearing nothing but a t-shirt, beaten, and obviously distressed.

"She said a lot of times, I’m lucky to be alive and I can’t believe this happened to me. Oh my god I got to call my husband," said Jones.

The victim told him she had been on a run when a young man on a scooter flagged her down and asked to use her phone. She quickly realized he was only pretending to make a call and when she tried to grab her phone back, she was pulled into a ravine where she was punched, kicked, and strangled before being sexually assaulted multiple times.

"I could see some kind of marking, bruising around her eyes and her hair was a mess," said Jones.

Describing her thoughts during the attack, the victim told the courtroom, "I can't believe this is how my kids lose their mother. I can't believe this is how it ends for me".

After an attack that police estimate lasted at least 45 minutes, the victim said the suspect finally became calm, walked back, and said, "I can't believe I did this". Then thanks to what the victim called divine intervention, she told her attacker, "It's okay. I forgive you. Please believe me. I forgive you". Then she ran and found Jones who called 911.

"She said help me I’ve been raped," said Jones.

Detective Matthew Cook with the Sandy Police Department investigated the case and says UTA Police presented him with surveillance footage from a Trax station near the scene.

"I observed a photo of a male who appeared to match the description that was given by the victim that we had put out in the media," says Cook.

Detective Cook gave the photo to local school resource officers and one of them recognized the suspect as a student at Alta High School, often seen riding a scooter. The detective then looked at Alta High's surveillance footage from the day of the attack.

"The male in the video appeared to be wearing the same shirt, pants, and hat, that was seen in the still images we received from the UTA police department," said Cook.

At the teen's home, police found a scooter that looked like the one seen in surveillance and bloody clothing marked with evidence.

"Within the grey sweats there appeared to be several strands of blonde hair," says Cook.

This led them to charge the teen with six first degree felonies including attempted murder.

The victim told the courtroom, it's a daily battle to get the images of the attack out of her mind, adding that one of the hardest parts is "just the total anguish of being married for almost three decades and having something special between you and your husband taken away in an instant".

The case will be back in front of the judge on July 11 to determine if the suspect will be tried as a juvenile or an adult.