By Faith Tap
November 6th, 2019
Deserae Turner lives in a small town called North Logan in Utah. It’s not the kind of place where you’d expect the kind of violence she was subjected to take place. Then again, we’ve clearly moved beyond the point where we can predict gun violence.
The 14-year-old was a student at Green Canyon High School in 2017 – a good student and member of the equestrian team. Apparently, she was also a frequent Snapchat user, like most teens her age.
One day while playing video games, Colter Peterson told Jayzon Decker that he was annoyed by the girl’s Snapchats. Decker said it would “be pretty easy to get rid of her.”
According to court testimony, murdering her was Decker’s idea but it was Peterson who would pull the trigger.
Decker hardly knew his victim, but he would concoct the plan to get her alone.
Peterson was a school acquaintance of Turner and he’s the one who lured her to a canal that February. There she met Decker, who pretended to need her help looking for a lost ring.
The original plan was to slit her throat, but Decker encouraged his friend to shoot her in the back of the head.
Then they robbed her – taking her phone and $55, which they immediately spent on snacks while she bled in the canal.
Decker even collected the bullet casing and put it in his window when he got home as a trophy.
Turner was discovered 8 hours later by a search team sent out when she didn’t come home that night. However, she was still alive.
While Turner survived the brutal and senseless attack, her life would be changed forever. She was unable to speak properly, had uncontrollable muscle spasms, and had to relearn how to walk.
The left side of her body is still largely paralyzed, her sight has been affected, and she suffers from painful and frequent headaches. The bullet is still lodged in her head.
Her two assailants were both easy to catch and both pled guilty to the crime. The young men are now 17 and due to the nature of the assault, were tried as adults. At their sentencing hearings, Turner spoke of her pain.
She told Decker, angrily:
“No amount of [prison] time will fix you. You are evil. … You kept the shell for a trophy. How sick is that? Good luck in prison and remember that, because of you, my life is a prison, too.”
Judge Brian Cannell sentenced Decker to a 15-year-to-life term in the Utah State Prison for
First-degree Felony Attempted Aggravated Murder. It will run concurrently with a sentence of up to 15 years for Second-degree Felony Obstruction of Justice.
The majority of her wrath was reserved for him in court.
“What do you have against me?” she asked Decker, who stared without emotion. “You don’t even know me. I hate what you did to me. … I hate that I don’t have a regular teenager life anymore. I hate that I won’t ever have a regular life.”
Peterson, on the other hand, sobbed throughout his sentencing hearing, despite being the trigger man. Everyone seemed to agree that Decker was far more dangerous.
Peterson also received a 15-year-to-life sentence. Both young men will be held in a juvenile detention facility until they’re 18.
“I don’t really know what to say, but I’m sorry about the things I have done and for the pain I have caused,” he said through tears.
His mother cried as well, wondering aloud how her son could have taken part in such a horrendous act. She asked for justice for Turner and her family and mercy for her own son.
The assailants are now behind bars and Desarae Turner is piecing her life back together with the help of her family, her classmates, and her community.
This year, the now 17-year-old was crowned homecoming queen, an honor that thrilled her and left her “bouncing around the house” despite all the pain that she’s still experiences. After 10 brain surgeries, she’s still a teenager after all.
Some of the women in her community made her a beautiful silver tulle dress and did her makeup.
She described the night as “perfect” as the homecoming king helped her stand on the field while people cheered.
Her good friend Logan Matz served as her date for the special occasion.
“It just gives you that comfort and love that, yes, I am truly loved,” she said. “Everybody needs to know that feeling.”
It’s a miracle she got to know it.