Last year, Deserae Turner was like every other 14-year-old. She had friends and enjoyed school. She also used social media like every other teenager does today. Her use of the popular app Snapchat, however, got her into serious trouble according to two teen boys.
Deserae used the app to contact friends and acquaintances of hers, a trend that teens have used in recent years to replace texting. One of the people on her Snapchat she would send messages to was 16-year-old Colter Peterson.
Peterson complained to a friend of his, another 16-year-old named Jayzon Decker, who barely knew Deserae. Peterson told Decker that he found Deserae “annoying” but instead of suggesting that Peterson simply block her, he advised the boy to kill her.
Peterson lured Deserae to a canal in Utah on Feb.16 2017. Decker kept Deserae at the location by pretending to look for a ring he claimed he lost. While there, Decker encouraged Peterson to shoot Deserae. The bullet entered the back of her head and she was left for dead.
Afterward, Decker and Peterson took the money Deserae had on her and went to a nearby convenient store to buy snacks. Decker kept the bullet casing on his windowsill as a sick and twisted momento of the murder he thought he and Peterson had committed.
When Deserae didn’t return home, a search party was sent to look for her. She was found in the dry, cold canal after eight hours of searching, barely hanging onto her young life.
The bullet is still lodged in her brain a year later and Deserae has lost most of her mobility. Her left side is paralyzed and her sight is limited. She suffers from constant and severe headaches that leave her feeling like she is in a “prison.” But she found the strength to appear at both trials for her attackers.
Because of their ages, both Peterson and Decker were initially charged in juvenile court with their crimes but after hearing evidence of the murder attempt on Deserae, as well as learning of their original heinous and disgusting plan of slitting her throat, a juvenile court judge moved the case to the adult court system.
Deserae explained in front of the court of all the things she’ll never be able to do now that she is confined to a wheelchair and will suffer for the rest of her life. Then, she offered six words to Peterson at his sentencing hearing that has resonated around the world: “I am tougher than a bullet,” she told him.
Peterson was given the maximum sentence of 15-years-to-life for attempted aggravated murder and one-to-15-years for robbery. Decker was also sentenced the maximum of 15-years-to-life for attempted aggravated murder and one-to-15-years for obstructing justice.
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