SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah girl who survived being shot in the head by two teens in a crime that shocked her small town left the hospital Thursday after more than two months and said she can’t wait to see her favorite horse, “Junior.”
Deserae Turner spoke Thursday at a Salt Lake City hospital where she’s been treated since she was found in a ditch Feb. 17. Authorities say two 16-year-old boys lured her to an isolated spot, then robbed and shot her.
The 14-year-old arrived in a wheelchair. She had short hair, a brace on her lower left leg and wore a shirt that said, “Happy” on the front and on the back: “There are so many beautiful reasons to be happy.”
Smiling and upbeat, she thanked doctors, therapists and those who sent her prayers. She said she was amazed that people from as far away as the Netherlands sent her well wishes.
“I have been working really hard and still have a lot of work to do,” Deserae said. “I told my dad that I’m tougher than a bullet.”
Deserae and her parents declined to talk about her injuries or the circumstances of the shooting.
Her father, Matt Turner, called it a joyous day that he and his wife, April Turner, weren’t sure they would see. They live in the small town of Smithfield, a bedroom community near Logan.
“Des has battled for her life and to do daily tasks,” said Matt Turner, reading from a sheet of paper. “She still wages this battle and will for many years to come but her determination and courage never waver.”
Authorities say the two teenagers accused of shooting Deserae concocted the plan while playing video games and discussing their desire to “get rid” of the girl who was texting one of them.
The first boy said he first thought it was a “crude joke” but they kept plotting and settled on a plan that called for him to slit Deserae’s throat, according to prosecutors. He could not go through with it, so instead he shot her in the back of the head with a gun he grabbed from underneath his brother’s mattress, police said.
The boys then broke her cellphone and iPod and took $55 they found in her backpack, police said. Prosecutors say that when investigators asked the teen why they took the money, he said, “greed.”
They are charged with attempted aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors said they will seek to have them charged as adults. Hearings have been scheduled for May for a judge to make a decision.
The Associated Press is not naming the boys because they are juveniles. The AP is part of a media coalition that persuaded a judge to keep the proceedings open to the public.
Deserae on Thursday wasn’t focused on that day but on finally being able to see the animals she loves again, especially “Junior” the horse.
“I’m super excited to see him and ride him again,” she said.