UTAH -- (KRXI) -- Colter Peterson, 17, pleaded guilty to aggravated murder Thursday after shooting 14-year-old Deserae Turner in the back of the head February before leaving her in a ditch to die.
The girl was left with lifelong injuries after the incident; Peterson could face up to life in prison.
Deserae's family said in a statement:
"Today was a step towards justice for Deserae. We are grateful for a team of men and women who have worked and continue to work tirelessly for our family. Our daughter continues to struggle. She works every day to gain as much quality of life as she can, but her life will never be the same."
Turner suffers from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Hemianopsia (half-vision), and Hemiplegia (weakness/paralysis on the left side of her body).
A GoFundMe has been created to aid her family with medical bills.
Turner did not return home after school one day.
After her parents declared her missing, two women discovered the girl lying in a ditch.
Co-defendants Colter Peterson and Jayzon Decker are being charged as adults, following months of holding in a juvenile detention center.
The pair stand accused of luring Turner to a canal under the guise of selling her a pocket knife.
The original plan was to slit the girl’s throat with knives, according to court documents. Prosecutors allege Peterson instead fired a bullet into the back of Turner’s head at the encouragement of Decker.
After, the boys left Turner in the canal and allegedly stole cash and electronics from the girl’s backpack.
After his arrest, Peterson told officers he had become irritated with Turner for texting and contacting him via Snapchat, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.