Too Harsh? Teen Gets Up to 15 Years in Prison for Role in Armed Robbery
A family is fighting back after their teenage son was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for his role in an armed robbery. Cooper Van Huizen, 16, was expecting a sentence of around six months when he took the advice of his attorney and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge.
The lawyer also thought the judge would allow Van Huizen, who did not have a criminal history, to attend school during the day.
He's now being held in solitary confinement in a maximum security cell at the Utah State Prison, which also houses murderers, gang members and death row inmates.
Van Huizen's father argued that his son did not have a gun during the robbery, and simply got caught up with a bad group of people. A new attorney is asking the judge to allow the teen to withdraw his guilty pleas.
Here's more details from KSL:
The teenage Van Huizen was sentenced this week by 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones to two, 1-to-15 year prison terms after he pleaded guilty to two reduced charges of second-degree felony robbery.
His father recommended he take the plea deal, believing it would result in a 180-day jail sentence where his son would be able to attend school during the day. Van Huizen said Cooper would have had to complete probation as well, but successful completion would have resulted in the charges being reduced to class A misdemeanors on his record.
“The judge acted very upset and he disallowed the plea agreement,” Van Huizen said.
Van Huizen recalled his son said “No, please” as the bailiffs were handcuffing him.
“He was crying,” he said. “He’s never been grounded.”
Van Huizen was arrested last fall and was accused of being part of a group that committed an armed robbery on Nov. 4 at a Roy home located near 5880 S. 2600 West.
Court documents said Cooper and four others — including three 18-year-olds — entered the home and held two people inside at gunpoint in the basement while they demanded money and drugs.
Police said they left with $10, a wallet, a cellphone and a bag of marijuana.
“There was insufficient evidence to show that my son had any weapon of any kind,” Van Huizen said.
Jon Scott discussed the controversial case with Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl and defense attorney Doug Burns, who called it a "crazy sentence" that he believes will eventually be lightened. Burns said plea agreements can be a "tricky area of the law" if the judge decides not to go along with a deal worked out between an attorney and a prosecutor.
Scott pointed out that one of the men who brutally beat Giants fan Bryan Stow outside Dodger Stadium in 2011 received about half of Van Huizen's sentence. Stow was left with permanent brain damage and in need of 24-hour care.
Watch the discussion above.
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