Judge Slaps Teen With 1- to 15-Year Sentence

Cooper Van Huizen's parents are trying to get him out of jail
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2014 2:05 PM CDT

(Newser) – A Utah teenager is facing up to 15 years in prison on robbery charges, and his parents are terrified. Cooper Van Huizen, 16, admits to taking part in a house robbery with friends. He also brought his dad's unloaded guns, one of which was pointed at a victim who was ordered to lie down on his belly, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. "I thought I was going to get shot in the back of the head," the victim told police. But while Cooper's teenage co-defendants took plea deals and got around 200 days in jail, Cooper copped a plea and got 1 to 15 years. Now he's in a maximum security cell at Utah State Prison, under a camera's watchful eye at all times.

"He’s just a nice, sweet young boy, always has been," said Cooper's father. "He’s not this rough-and-tough wanna-be street-wise little kid." Now with a new lawyer, the boy's parents are seeking a sentence reduction and hope the judge will let Cooper withdraw his two guilty pleas to second-degree felony robbery (the teens stole a bag of marijuana, a wallet, $10, and a cellphone, KSL reports). As for Cooper, he took responsibility for his crime—sort of. "I was reckless in trying to fit in with and please new people I did not really know," he wrote in a court declaration. "My judgment was impaired by my use of marijuana." (Read more robbery stories.)

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