A Utah teen was sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison. In a plea deal, 16-year-old Cooper Van Huizen pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree felony robbery. Although prosecutors recommended 180 days in jail, 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones disagreed with their suggestion. On May 7, Jones sentenced the teen to up to 15 years in a maximum security adult prison.
On November 19, 2013, Cooper Van Huizen, Tomek Perkins, and Joshua Dutson were gathered at the home of an acquaintance. At some point, the three friends reportedly threatened and robbed two others at gunpoint. Van Huizen, Perkins, and Dutson left the house with $10 cash, an undisclosed amount of marijuana, a cell phone, and a wallet.
All three suspects were eventually arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated burglary and two counts of aggravated robbery. If convicted on all counts, the teens would be facing life in prison.
Joshua Dutson, age 17, accepted a plea agreement. He was later sentenced to 210 days in jail. In a similar plea, Tomek Perkins, age 19, was sentenced to 180 days.
Van Huizen’s attorney, Roy Cole, suggested a similar plea agreement. As the teen had no prior record, prosecutors and the probation board agreed on a sentence of 180 days in jail. However, Judge Jones was not willing to accept the agreement.
During sentencing, the judge suggested Van Huizen and his co-defendants had planned numerous robberies. He also noted that the 16-year-old had possession of two guns.
Despite the prosecutors’ recommendation, the teen was sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison. Van Huizen, his attorney, and his family were stunned. The teen admits he made a mistake. However, he did not expect the specifically harsh sentence:
“As I look back on what I did, I recognize that I was reckless in trying to fit in with and please new people I did not really know… My judgment was impaired by my use of marijuana.”
As he was sentenced as an adult, the teen will serve his time in the Utah State Prison — a maximum security facility. As reported by Raw Story, Mark Van Huizen fears for his son’s safety:
“He’s 16 years old… Some 16-years-olds are more mature than others, but Cooper is really soft and tender emotionally… had I known what I know now, I would not have allowed my son to accept that plea deal.”
As reported by Salt Lake Tribune, Cooper Van Huizen’s parents have hired a new attorney, as they want the teen’s sentence reduced. If Judge Jones does not reconsider the sentence, the teen could serve 15 years in prison.
[Images via Facebook]