(LOGAN, Utah) — A Utah girl shot by a teenage boy and left in a ditch to die at 14 said Thursday the bullet still in her brain touches almost everything she does, but her determination has kept her alive.
“You shouldn’t have messed with me, because I am tougher than a bullet,” Deserae Turner said Thursday at a hearing where Colter D. Peterson, 17, was sentenced to at least 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated attempted murder and robbery.
Turner told a judge she considered Peterson a friend before the shooting, when she did karate, rode horses and played the saxophone.
Now 15, she struggles to walk, dress herself and function through seizures and debilitating headaches, she said.
“There are times I wish I could give the gun back to Colter and tell him to try again and put me out of my misery,” Deserae said.
She then told the defendant, “Welcome to hell. I have been here for a year now.”
Peterson wiped tears as she spoke. The crime has likely ruined his life, he said at the hearing, but it pales in comparison to what happened to Turner.
Defense attorney Mike McGinnis said Peterson is not a monster but was depressed at the time of the shooting and gave in to peer pressure.
“I think Colter is a good kid who did something really horrible,” the lawyer said.
Prosecutors, though, said Peterson had threatened to kill another girl in 2014 and tried to lure her to a cemetery at night because he thought she was annoying.
Peterson and another teen friend concocted a plan in February 2017 while playing video games and discussing their desire to “get rid” of Turner, who was messaging Peterson, prosecutors said.
The pair lured her to a dry canal bed, where she was shot and then left near Smithfield, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of Salt Lake City, prosecutors said.
Turner was found alive after an overnight search.
She was hospitalized for two months and has had hundreds of appointments with doctors since her release.
The second boy, Jayzon Decker, has also pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated murder and felony obstruction of justice. He is set to be sentenced Feb. 7.
The Associated Press does not typically name juvenile defendants, but the teens were ordered to face charges as adults.