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Prosecutors at hearing say teen killed girlfriend, dumped her body in Utah river in 2012


SALT LAKE CITY — Utah police followed a trail of blood to the body of a teenage girl in a river after she was beaten to death by her 14-year-old boyfriend in 2012, prosecutors said Monday during a preliminary hearing.

The suspect appeared in a Salt Lake City courtroom as prosecutors presented evidence during the hearing where a judge will decide if there is enough evidence for the teen to stand trial and if he should be tried as an adult.

Now 17, the defendant has not yet entered a plea in the case. The Associated Press is not naming him because he is a juvenile.

The victim, 15-year-old Anne Kasprzak, told friends she was pregnant and wrote in a journal that her boyfriend didn't seem to want the baby, according to search warrants.

Her stepfather testified Monday that she was never pregnant. A medical examiner agreed.

Stepfather James Bratcher said he and his wife had given Kasprzak tests and birth control after learning she had sex with the defendant and later found several more negative tests in her bedroom.

Under questioning by defense attorney Christopher Bown, Bratcher said his stepdaughter had been briefly committed to the Utah State Hospital after clashing with her mother and also lived at a group home for a few months the year before her death.

Bratcher said he and his wife found a note in the girl's bed that said she was headed to California after she disappeared on March 10, 2012. They called police and tracked the girl's cellphone to an area near a bridge over the Jordan River.

Her body was found the next morning, after a jogger noticed blood on a footbridge over the river about 20 miles south of Salt Lake City.

It looked like someone coughed up the blood found on the edge of the bridge, and there was more that appeared to have pooled on rocks below, crime scene investigator Alyssa McElreath said during the hearing.

An autopsy showed Kasprzak suffered multiple blows that crushed her face and head, medical examiner Edward Leis testified.

Police became suspicious when they noticed the defendant was wearing brand-new shoes, McElreath said. Officers asked for his old shoes, and as he was handing them over he volunteered that Kasprzak had gotten a nosebleed at a friend's house and dripped blood onto his shoelace, testimony showed.

The investigation took a detour when a person said two ex-convicts in their early 30s had knocked out the girl and driven away with her after she refused to have sex with them.

Officers eventually determined the story was made up by a drug addict who wanted to get back at the two ex-convicts, and they were cleared of any connection to the death.

Police arrested the boyfriend in October, more than two years after the death. The preliminary hearing was expected to last seven days.

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