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James Brenner pleads guilty to killing Utah teen Dylan Rounds after leading police to body

Dylan Rounds

BRIGHAM CITY, Utah — The man accused in the murder of 19-year-old Dylan Rounds accepted a plea agreement after leading authorities to the burial site on Wednesday, authorities said.

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According to a news release from the Box Elder County District Attorney’s Office, James Brenner, 60, pleaded guilty to second-degree felony murder in the death of Rounds, and two counts of possession of a firearm by a restricted person.

Brenner originally was charged with first-degree murder and desecration of a human body. The murder charge was reduced to second-degree murder and the other count will be dismissed, KSL-TV reported. Prison time will be mandatory as part of the agreement.

The deal also includes an agreement that the sentences for each of the individual charges run consecutively, KTVX reported.

Brenner was formally charged on March 3, 2023, with aggravated murder and abuse or desecration of a human body, the sheriff’s office said.

“It doesn’t necessarily put it to rest, but this court part of it and the anxiety of the consistently waiting, ‘What’s going to happen? When’s it going to happen? What if it doesn’t happen?’ That part we can finally lay to rest,” Rounds’ mother, Candice Cooley, told KSTU-TV.

During Wednesday’s court hearing in the First District Court in Brigham City, Brenner admitted that he had shot Rounds in the head multiple times, East Idaho News reported.

Rounds went missing near his home in Lucin, Utah on or around May 28, 2022, KSL reported. Lucin is near the Utah-Nevada border. He was last seen in Montello, Nevada -- 30 miles west of Lucin -- where his family said he had moved from Idaho to start his own farm, KSTU reported.

Skeletal remains were discovered on April 9, 2024, in Lucin, a small town located approximately 200 miles northwest of Salt Lake City.

Police said Brenner was squatting in a trailer and was Rounds’ closest neighbor when she went missing, KSL reported.

Brenner had been considered a suspect on July 23, 2023, according to KUTV. According to a probable cause statement, Rounds’ last signal to his cellphone was pinged to a pond that was close to where Brenner was staying.

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