Imprisoned Utah teen Cooper Van Huizen will walk free Wednesday


    (KUTV) Imprisoned Utah teen, Cooper Van Huizen, who made international headlines as the 16-year-old locked up with adults for an armed robbery he denies planning, will walk free Wednesday, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole decided on Tuesday.Cooper's family expected the decision two weeks after the Tuesday hearing. But the board decided to release Cooper the same afternoon, Brooke Adams, public information officer for the Utah Department of Corrections, confirmed.{}Cooper's father, Marc Van Huizen, who has been fighting his son’s sentence for months, received the call from Cooper’s attorney, Liz Hunt, little more than an hour after the South Ogden teen met with a board member.{}“I'm an emotional wreck. I'm exhausted. I'm incredibly happy. About every emotion is going through me right now,” Marc Van Huizen said. “I don't know if I want to sleep or if I want to party and celebrate. I think I'll do both.”{}In May, Cooper pleaded guilty to two counts of felony armed robbery in adult court. He told a board member on Tuesday afternoon that his past attorneys misguided him, leading him to believe the plea deal would protect him from serving time in prison. Cooper expected a maximum of six months in juvenile detention with the opportunity to leave each weekday for school.{}But Judge Ernie Jones considered the recommended sentence too lenient and sentenced Cooper to two concurrent sentences of one to fifteen years in the Utah State Prison. Two other teens had previously pleaded guilty, too, but only received six months and seven months in jail.{}A victim told police the group of boys had entered his home and demanded at gunpoint cash, electronics and marijuana.{}Cooper was also accused of planning other robberies. But, his father said, he never plotted such crimes. He only provided his father’s unloaded, heirloom guns to go shooting. Cooper was “naïve” and ended up with the wrong group of friends, Marc claimed.{}“The only thing he did was provide those weapons, but it was not for the intention of committing a felony,” Marc Van Huizen said. “It was for the intention of going shooting in Morgan.”{}Cooper spent weeks in solitary confinement, according to his father, in the Draper prison, where older, hardened inmates are locked up.{}“My fears were that my son could be assaulted, raped, destroyed,” Marc Van Huizen said. “That true, young heart he has. He's a soft, wonderful boy.”{}Since his imprisonment, supporters organized rallies for his release and people across the world sent letters to Cooper in Daggett County Jail, where he was transferred in late May.{}Marc Van Huizen spent Tuesday evening collecting both his emotions and Cooper’s clothing, as he prepares to pick up his boy from the Draper prison.{}“I hope these [pants] fit him. I’ve thought about that. Because he’s gotten tall, just in the last six months he’s been there,” Marc Van Huizen said, digging through Cooper’s closet. “He’s grown. And that’s too bad. I missed out on that.”{}Cooper’s father, mother and best friend will pick him up on Wednesday, before they take a ride to Daggett County to collect his belongings, see the facility from the outside and thank jail staff for their sensitivity to Cooper’s situation, Marc said.{}Marc wasn’t sure of the terms of Cooper’s parole, but said the board recommended he return to high school and seek assistance from a school counselor.{}Cooper’s family still plans to appeal the sentence and bring his case back to juvenile court to remove the felonies from his record._____

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