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Teen accused of killing Kailey Vijil in 2015 pleads guilty

MATHESON COURTHOUSE – The West Valley teen accused of luring a 12-year old girl from her home to rape her and kill her has taken a plea deal in which he pleaded guilty in both juvenile and district court.

First, Jayden Sterzer admitted to rape of a child in juvenile court.  His attorneys say this will keep him in the juvenile system until he’s 21.  His defense attorney, Michael Sikora, says their goal was to keep Sterzer out of the adult system for the next three years.  “We just don’t think that he was, in any way, shape or form, prepared for a lengthy stint at the Utah State Prison,” says Sikora, adding, “Intellectually, he operates at the level of about a third-grader.”

When he reaches the age of 21, he’ll be sentenced for pleading guilty to first-degree murder and sexual abuse of a child.  Vijil family attorney Spencer Banks says, “It assures that he’ll be in custody for an extremely long time and that’s where they take most comfort.”

Banks says no decision will ever make their family whole, again.  However, the family does feel a sense of relief, today.  Banks says, “They’re relieved that they don’t have to go through a preliminary hearing, a certification hearing and a juvenile trial in a juvenile court.  Then, if he was certified [as an adult] then he’d have to go on trial in the adult court.  That’s all behind them, now.”

(Photo Credit: Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)