ST. GEORGE — The teen who brought a homemade bomb to Pine View High School earlier this year will be tried as an adult.
Juvenile Court Judge Paul E. Dame announced his decision Thursday in 5th District Court in St. George. Martin Farnsworth, the 16-year-old suspect from Hurricane who was previously unnamed by St. George News, will now face the adult district court instead of a juvenile one for most of his charges.
Farnsworth is accused of bringing a homemade bomb to Pine View High School and lighting the fuse in the cafeteria on March 5. The bomb never detonated and no one was injured, but the incident caused the school to be evacuated. Farnsworth also is accused of vandalizing Hurricane High School Feb. 15 by painting “ISIS is comi” and raising a flag for the Islamic State outside the school.
While Farnsworth’s felony charges of attempted murder and possessing a weapon of mass destruction will be moved to adult court, the misdemeanor charges for vandalizing Hurricane High School and abuse of the flag will remain in the juvenile court because the incident was separate from the one at Pine View High School, Dame ruled.
The judge also decided to allow Farnsworth to remain at the Juvenile Detention Center until the case is concluded instead of being moved to the adult jail at Purgatory Correctional Facility. A cash-only bail for Farnsworth’s felony charges was set at $100,000 each.
Dame’s decision to move Farnsworth to the adult court is the best outcome to protect the community and rehabilitate Farnsworth, Deputy Washington County Attorney Angela Adams said. Farnsworth will face a much longer sentence because he’s being tried as an adult.
“We’ll be able to protect the community for a lot longer period of time than if he were in juvenile court.”
Although Farnsworth’s attorneys said they are disappointed with the outcome, but hope a jury will help Farnsworth receive a better final outcome once they see all the details of the case.
Allowing Farnsworth to remain in custody at the juvenile detention center will also enable him to receive better resources until he’s 18, attorney Matthew Harris said.
“We have to remember this as an individual that for 16 years hasn’t committed any violations and the allegations against him seem very bizarre, and that’s why I think when it gets to a jury, the jury can see that this isn’t a case you may see on national headlines.”
Throughout the preliminary hearing process, the defense has argued Farnsworth’s lack of previous criminal history, autism diagnosis and experiences of being bullied in school should qualify him to remain in the juvenile system. On the other hand, prosecutors argued Farnsworth was competent in his decision to bring a bomb to school to “cause fear” and that his autism diagnosis couldn’t be blamed.
Upon hearing the judge’s decision, Farnsworth remained stoic, not displaying any emotion in the courtroom. Several members of Farnsworth’s family, including his parents, were also in attendance. While family members understand how serious his charges are, they still want to see the best outcome, defense attorney Stephen Harris said.
“The family is obviously upset. This is so atypical of his actions that it’s just hard to comprehend to even be in the situation at this time. They are a very close-knit family, very large family, extended family – they have concern for him as their grandchild and child.”
The family will continue to support Farnsworth, but they don’t have sufficient resources to pay for bail at this time, Stephen Harris said. There could be a new bail set in a hearing in the district court, but the $200,000 cash-only bail is what stands now. As the case moves to district court, prosecutors have yet to decide whether to pursue a cash-only bail, Adams said.
The case could be a lengthy one if it goes to trial, but it’s “certainly possible” it could be resolved quickly without a trial, Adams said.
Once Farnsworth is sentenced, she said, it could take many years to rehabilitate him to ensure he’d never commit a similar crime again.
“We’ve had a lot of time and effort going into this. This was not taken lightly, and the reason that that was is because we really, truly believe in the substantial threat to the community and that needed to be addressed.”
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