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Teen suspect in West Valley City shooting to remain in juvenile detention

Posted at 1:27 PM, Jan 19, 2022

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — The 14-year-old suspect connected to last week's West Valley City shootings that left two teens dead will remain in juvenile detention, a judge ruled Wednesday. The state also made its intentions known that it intends to move the case to adult court.

The suspect, whom FOX 13 is not naming, is accused of shooting three boys last Thursday following a confrontation outside Hunter High School between students from rival schools.

Tivani Lopati, 14, and Paul Tahi, 15, were killed in the shooting, while Ephraim Asiata, 15, was critically wounded and is still hospitalized.

READ: How to help families of West Valley City shooting victims

Judge Mark May's ruling allows the state more time to file charges against the suspect before a mandated deadline. All sides agreed to meet again on Jan. 26.

"Your honor, I just want you to know that I'm a good kid," said the suspect before he was cut off by May who advised him to speak through his attorney.

Legal analyst Greg Skordas explained the difficulty in deciding whether to charge the suspect as an adult or juvenile.

“Certainly, when you’re 18, you are an adult, you are presumed to be and you are treated so. If you are 13 or under, you’re a juvenile. But these 14, 15, 16, year olds, they can go either way," said Skordas. "That’s a tough decision that prosecutors and judges all have to address. I think there’d be good reason for people to wonder, whether or not he should ever be released from prison and that’s a decision a juvenile judge could make."

WATCH: Sidewalk memorial growing to honor teens killed in West Valley City shooting

Four teens were originally arrested following the shooting, but all were released other than the suspect who has remained in juvenile detention since last week.