ST. GEORGE — Martin Farnsworth, the 16-year-old accused of bringing a homemade bomb to Pine View High School earlier this year, pleaded not guilty Wednesday for attempted murder and possessing a weapon of mass destruction.
Farnsworth made the plea during a short arraignment hearing in the 5th District Courthouse in St. George. He also appeared briefly via video conference for his initial appearance in district court Tuesday after a judge ruled last week that he’d be tried as an adult.
Farnsworth’s misdemeanor charges for vandalizing Hurricane High School and abuse of the flag will remain in juvenile court. During the arraignment hearing Wednesday, Farnsworth only pled not guilty to his two felony charges in the district court and not the misdemeanor charges.
Farnsworth’s not guilty plea was “procedural,” Deputy Washington County Attorney Angela Adams told St. George News, adding that it was just entered so he reserves his rights so the court process can proceed.
“This either allows us to resolve it or go to trial,” Adams said.
Whether Farnsworth will plead guilty or not guilty to his charges if the case goes to trial depends on whether the case can be resolved without a trial, Adams said.
Farnsworth is currently being held on a $200,000 cash-only bail for his felony charges, which stem from a March 5 incident where he allegedly brought a bomb inside a backpack to the cafeteria of Pine View High School. The bomb never exploded, but the entire school was evacuated. He’s also accused of vandalizing Hurricane High School Feb. 15 by painting “ISIS is comi” and raising a flag for the Islamic State outside the school.
During his initial appearance in district court Tuesday after his preliminary hearings in juvenile court, Judge Eric A. Ludlow said both first-degree felonies carry a minimum sentence of five years in prison each.
“I need to advise you if you’re convicted of one or more of these offenses, any sentencing could run consecutively, one after the other,” Ludlow said while addressing Farnsworth in the courtroom. “So there could be a minimum of 10 years of your natural life in prison.”
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