16-Year-Old Boy Given 15 Years after Judge Changes Plea Deal

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May 27, 2014 7:30am PST

A boy from Utah got the shock of his life when the judge in his trial changed the terms of his plea deal and handed him a 15-year prison sentence earlier in May.

16-year-old Cooper Van Huizen had pleaded guilty to two felony counts of second degree robbery after he was arrested for his involvement in a home invasion last year and greed to a 180 day sentence originally. However District Court Judge Ernie Jones believed the terms of his plea bargain to be “too soft” and instead sent him to Utah’s maximum security prison for one to 15 years.

Van Huizen cried and begged for mercy as the judge handed down the sentence but it was to no avail. He was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs in front of his family to go to his solitary cell, which is to protect him from other inmates, in “Uintah 1,” which houses death row inmates and gang members.

“He’s 16 years old,” said his father, Marc Van Huizen. “Some 16-years-olds are more mature than others, but Cooper is really soft and tender emotionally. He’s just a nice, sweet young boy, always has been. He’s not this rough-and-tough, wannabe street-wise little kid.”

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Van Huizen had no prior criminal history before his arrest and was the youngest out of the group of teens who broke into a home and robbed the victims at gunpoint, although he didn’t actually have a gun at the time. One of the other teens, Joshua Dutson, 17, was sentenced by the same judge to 210 days in jail for the same plea deal and 19-year-old Tomek Perkins was sentenced to 180 days back in April.

Van Huizen’s parents said they’ve acquired a new attorney and will be fighting the ruling.

“The mistake that he made — the first ever he’s made in his life — was a big one,” Marc Van Huizen said.

Do you think this punishment is fair for Van Huizen or would you say the judge is being a little harsh? Let us know with a comment!

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