This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
After realizing that his stepdaughter was missing on March 10, 2012, James Bratcher discovered a note under 15-year-old Anne Kasprzak's bedsheets as he searched the family home for the girl that Saturday night.
She was going to California, it said. She had lied to her parents and lied to her friends about being pregnant, the girl wrote.
The Riverton father then called police and reported her missing.
Kasprzak's body, battered beyond recognition DNA ultimately identified her was found in the Jordan River in nearby Draper the next day.
Prosecutors have accused Kasprzak's then-14-year-old boyfriend of killing the girl.
The boy, who is now 17, is charged in 3rd District Juvenile Court with first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony obstruction of justice.
On Monday, a seven-day certification and preliminary hearing began where prosecutors present evidence and testimony and Judge Dane Nolan will determine whether there is probable cause to believe the teen committed the crime.
Nolan will also decide whether the defendant's case should stay in juvenile court or go to adult court, as prosecutors have requested.
The Salt Lake Tribune generally does not identify juvenile defendants unless they have been certified to stand trial as an adult.
The teen's defense attorney, Christopher Bown, said Monday that his client didn't kill the girl.
"In terms of looking at the evidence, we don't believe he was the person who committed this," Bown said. "We are going to profess his innocence at this point."
Bratcher testified that his 15-year-old stepdaughter had sex with the defendant and thought she was pregnant. Her parents made her take a pregnancy test which came back negative and they had the girl put on birth control.
But in the girl's planner, she scrawled a note on the March 1, 2012 date: "[The boyfriend] finds out."
Bratcher said he was "confused, but not necessarily surprised" that his step-daughter would have written in her planner as if she was pregnant, though she was not.
"Annie was very good at writing things down," he said. "She would always write her thoughts down."
Police and prosecutors have remained tight-lipped about a motive for the girl's beating death.
But Kasprzak wrote in a journal that she believed her boyfriend "did not want the baby that she told him she was carrying," according to a search warrant affidavit unsealed in October.
The day after Kasprzak went missing, police were called to an area along the Jordan River Parkway south of 12300 South someone had reported that there was a large amount of blood by the river and a shoe was found in the water, Draper Police crime scene technician Alyssa McElreath testified Monday.
McElreath said that after following a trail of blood from a bridge, down an embankment and into the river, authorities called for a helicopter to search from above.
A few minutes later, officers in the helicopter came over the radio to report "they had found a girl in the water," McElreath testified.
McElreath said Kasprzak's body spotted between 12300 South and 11400 South was recovered by a search and rescue boat.
Medical Examiner Edward Leis testified Monday that the girl had bone fractures, bruising and hemorrhage to her face and head. It was likely caused by "multiple blows" that overlapped one another, Leis testified.
Leis said he certified Kasprzak's cause of death as "blunt force injury to the head." Her manner of death was a homicide, he said.
When asked if there was any way Kasprzak's death could have been an accident, Leis replied, "I don't see how. It required repeated blows."
Leis said there was some water found in Kasprzak's lungs, but he could not determine whether that was due to the girl going into the river while she was barely alive and having inhaled water, or if the water entered her lungs as her body was carried by the river's current.
Several days after the girl's body was found, McElreath said police went to the teen defendant's home to collect a DNA sample and look for evidence. When he was asked for his shoes, McElreath said the teen was hesitant.
The teen told police, "Just so you know, Annie had a bloody nose and she may have gotten blood on my shoes," according to McElreath.
McElreath said the boy claimed that the bloody nose occurred at his friend's house, but police found no evidence of any blood there.
During an interview with officers, the friend at first agreed that Kasprzak had a bloody nose at his house, according to a probable cause statement filed in court.
But after officers found a text on the friend's phone from the defendant asking him to tell police the bloody nose story, the friend admitted he had lied, according to court documents.
The text messages were read aloud in court Monday. In one, the defendant tells his friend: "The cops might come back to your house. I need you to tell them Annie got a bloody nose."
Another read: "They took my shoes for my testing and I need you to tell them that so I don't get blamed."
But defense attorneys also pointed out that yet another message said, "I just want you to know I'm not telling you to lie to the cops … I just know you were kind of dozing off that night" that she had a bloody nose.
Three friends of the victim testified that Kasprzak had talked to them about being pregnant, even giving one of them a due date in August.
Two of the friends testified that Kasprzak was planning to run away with the defendant.
"She told me that she was planning on running away that weekend … with her boyfriend," classmate Alexandra Bertagnolli testified. "She wanted to run away and get married."
Bertagnolli said she had a 90-minute conversation with her friend days before Kasprzak's death about the pregnancy, and at one point Kasprzak said she wasn't sure if the defendant wanted her to keep the child.
Bertagnolli testified Monday that she would be "a little" surprised if it turned out her friend was never pregnant.
"I genuinely believe that Annie was telling the truth," she testified. "She was so excited about it. She seemed genuinely nervous for her parents to find out."
The tiny Salt Lake City courtroom was packed Monday with family members of both Kasprzak and the accused teen. Kasprzak's stepmother, Jennifer Kasprzak, called it a "bittersweet" day.
"It's extremely difficult to relive her death again," she said. "But we're finally to the point where at least we'll see some justice here on earth, when for a long time it was a long shot."
The teen suspect was not arrested and charged until October 2014, at which time he was living in Colorado .
Police initially arrested two men in connection with Kasprzak's death based on a bad tip from a female witness who was upset with the men but they were cleared of the crime in 2013.
That witness, Joanna Franklin, testified on Monday that she lied to police after she was arrested for her own crimes and had hoped that if she helped the police, they would help her.
Franklin said she "confused" Kasprzak's case with another crime against a young woman that happened the same night, and emphasized in her testimony that she never knew Kasprzak and had never seen her before.
"I tweaked [the story] to be what he wanted to hear," Franklin said of her interview with a detective. "Like, I lied to him … I don't even know all the stories I told. [But] they weren't true."