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Sept. 24, 2020

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Girl, 16, now faces attempted murder charge in Hazel Dell home invasion case

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published:

A 16-year-old girl appeared Monday in Clark County Superior Court to face an attempted murder charge for her alleged part in a home-invasion robbery in Hazel Dell.

Sophia L. Utton is in custody on suspicion of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree robbery and theft of a motor vehicle. She will be formally charged Jan. 10.

Utton originally faced lesser charges in Clark County Juvenile Court, but a newly filed probable cause affidavit says she and three others — Alexander J. Rivers and Aiden M. Swegles, both 17, and Amber R. Maxwell, 13, who is reportedly the victim’s granddaughter — planned the robbery. Swegles is heard in a video discussing stabbing the 66-year-old victim, court records say.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Colin Hayes requested bail be set at $5 million, arguing Utton poses a risk to the community and is a flight risk.

Judge Jennifer Snider set bail at $2 million.

Maxwell similarly had her charges upgraded last week in juvenile court to include attempted second-degree murder.

At 6:15 p.m. Dec. 16, the victim, James Reese, called 911 and reported that he’d been assaulted and robbed in his home by his granddaughter and two males, according to affidavits of probable cause. The granddaughter lives with Reese in the 2500 block of Northeast 83rd Way in Vancouver, the affidavit says.

Responding Clark County sheriff’s deputies found Reese suffering from several stab wounds to his face and neck. Investigators later learned he was also stabbed in the chest, which severed his carotid artery, and he had fractured facial bones and severely broken ribs.

Before entering intensive care unit, Reese was able to relay that the teenagers stole his cellphone and wallet and fled in his Dodge sedan, according to the affidavits. Later that night, Clatsop County sheriff’s deputies and Seaside, Ore., police officers located the stolen car. Law enforcement from four agencies in Oregon pursued when it sped off, but the driver eventually crashed and four teenagers were arrested, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Officers found that Swegles was in possession of a bandana and two debit cards belonging to Reese, according to an affidavit.

The newly filed affidavit says Swegles admitted during an interview with detectives that he and his co-defendants “developed a plan to rob the victim.” They intended to steal Reese’s debit card; the granddaughter claimed to know the PIN, according to the affidavit.

Swegles told detectives Maxwell let him and the others into the house. He said he pushed Reese to the ground and restrained him while Maxwell, Utton and Rivers searched the house, court records say. Swegles claimed Rivers said they had to “take him out,” and the two boys started “stomping” Reese, the affidavit says.

When Reese did not die, Rivers and Swegles both stabbed him in the neck, Swegles told detectives, according to the affidavit.

“Aiden Swegles believed they had stabbed the victim severely enough that if he wasn’t already dead, the victim would die of his injuries soon so he stopped,” the affidavit says.

The teens left the house and tried to use Reese’s debit card at several ATMs, but it did not work. Detectives obtained video that showed Swegles trying to use the card with a bandana over his face, court records say.

Authorities also obtained video taken just before the robbery of the teens discussing their plans. Rivers and Swegles had knives in the video, and Swegles talked about stabbing Reese, “making fighting moves with his hands,” the affidavit says.

Rivers and Swegles are each being held on $3 million bail. An order of detention filed in Maxwell’s case says her parents are unavailable to house her, and she is to remain in custody while her case is pending.

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