Teen accused of distributing U-47700 pleads not guilty
November 4, 2016
A 15-year-old boy facing charges in connection with the investigations into the overdose deaths of two 13-year-old Park City boys in September pleaded not guilty Friday through an attorney during his initial court appearance.
The teen is charged in 3rd District Court in Silver Summit with one count of distributing a controlled or counterfeit substance, a second-degree felony, and one Class A misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment. He also pleaded non-guilty to a contempt charge stemming from a previous, unrelated incident.
The teen was not present in court, instead participating in the hearing via speakerphone.
According to court documents, a juvenile girl told police the teen ordered drugs online from China and shipped it to her house because the boy's parents screened his packages for drugs. The teen and another friend, who later told his therapist the drug was the synthetic opioid U-47700, then allegedly distributed the substance to two other teens.
The defendant allegedly ordered the drug using the dark web, court documents state, a section of the internet accessed with special software and in which illegal activity is common.
U-47700 is commonly called pink and is twice as potent as heroin.
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Police discovered the 15-year-old boy's alleged actions during their investigations into the deaths of Grant Seaver and Ryan Ainsworth, best friends and Treasure Mountain Junior High School students found dead in their respective homes in September. Police on Thursday announced that toxicology reports from the state medical examiner showed the boys died from overdosing on U-47700.
Court documents do not indicate whether the 15-year-old boy and his friend distributed the drug to Ainsworth or Seaver. Patricia Cassell, chief prosecutor for the Summit County Attorney's Office, declined to elaborate about that possible connection.
"That's part of our evidence, and that will come out if there's a trial, but at this point I'm not going to comment on that," she said.
Seaver's parents were present at Friday's hearing. Before the proceedings, they stood and identified themselves in front of the judge. They left the courtroom without speaking to media.
Cassell said prosecutors have no intention of attempting to certify the 15-year-old boy as an adult. However, she added that it's imperative for the teen to face legal consequences.
"I think it's important, based on the lives that were lost, that the prosecutions go forward," she said.
Cassell added that the teen has not been taken into police custody for the charges.
The Drug Enforcement Administration recently classified U-47700 as a Schedule I substance, making it illegal. That designation came after the teen boy is alleged to have bought and distributed the drug, however. Additionally, the drug is not illegal per Utah law.
In light of that, prosecutors will have to prove the drug the teen boy allegedly distributed is a controlled substance analog, Cassell said. To classify as a controlled substance analog, the drug has to have a similar chemical nature to, or have the same effects of, a regular controlled substance.
The teen's next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 2.
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