LOCAL NEWS

James Brenner pleads guilty to murder of Utah teen Dylan Rounds

May 15, 2024, 2:18 PM | Updated: 10:24 pm

BRIGHAM CITY — James Brenner, charged in the death of once-missing Utah teen, has pleaded guilty to the murder Dylan Rounds.

The agreement was announced by the Box Elder County Attorney’s Office that said it has worked closely with Rounds’ parents to review options and to structure the plea deal signed by Brenner in First District Court in Brigham City Wednesday.

Rounds’ mother, Candice Cooley said the family is comfortable with the deal and praised the prosecuting attorney, but also said it’s not justice and it’s not closure when it comes to the loss of a child. She said she just doesn’t know if the punishment will fit the crime.

“One to 15 years for murdering Dylan is not justice. It isn’t. But it’s what the law is,” she told KSL TV. She said she is mad that Rounds put his truck in the shed that day.

“(It’s) absolutely shameful that this is what it was over, and that’s probably all we’ll ever get out of him. There’s no legal arrangement that can make him tell us exactly what happened that morning.”

Two photos of Dylan Rounds side by side

Dylan Rounds went missing on May 28, 2022. His body was recovered on April 9, 2024 and James Brenner pleaded guilty to the murder of Dylan Rounds. (Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office)

Brenner previously assisted in the location of Rounds’ remains that were recovered on April 9 as part of the plea and that was a condition of the agreement, the attorney’s office said. Brenner was charged with first-degree murder and desecration of a human body. The murder charge will be reduced to second-degree murder of Dylan Rounds, and the other count will be dismissed. Prison time will be mandatory as part of the agreement.

Brenner will be sentenced in the same court on July 1.

“We can take a deep breath now. We don’t have to wonder what the next phone call is going to be,” Cooley said. But these said closure will be hard to find.

“There’s really such thing as closure … but it brings closure to this chapter,” she said.

“Being able to bring Dylan home and bring this prosecution to a successful conclusion is a great relief,” Box Elder County Attorney Stephen Hadfield said. “It has been amazing to see what the tireless and unrelenting efforts of so many different people can accomplish. We wouldn’t be here today without each of their individual contributions.”

Cooley said she plans to lobby for reform of the criminal justice system under the non-profit that Rounds’ family has set up, dylanroundslegacy.org.

Dylan Rounds’ mother says finding his remains brings needed closure

History of the case of the murder of Dylan Rounds

Rounds went missing on May 28, 2022. Brenner was charged with his murder in March of 2023, despite Rounds’ body not then being located. He was charged with first-degree murder in Rounds’ death and desecration of his body. Rounds was originally from eastern Idaho but had spent parts of the three years prior to his death in Lucin.

The teen was last known to be near Lucin, a small town near the Utah-Nevada border. Brenner was identified as a suspect by the FBI and Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office in July 2022.

Brenner used to live on his family’s property and worked with Rounds. Police previously said Brenner was squatting in a trailer and was Rounds’s closest neighbor when he went missing.

The case against James Brenner

When Brenner was first charged with murder, court documents detailed some of the evidence investigators had collected. He was already being held in custody on charges police said were related to charges of a restricted person in possession of a gun. A U.S. prosecutor called Brenner’s history “violent” and “atrocious.” He had a shooting charge in 1986 and was accused of beating a 70-year-old man with an aluminum char.

Evidence then collected included DNA analysis from a shirt seen with blood on it in a video and blood on Rounds’ boots that were found during the search for him. Analysis of the blood found DNA belonging to Rounds and Brenner.

Phone data also showed Rounds’ movements on the day he vanished, including a visit to the remote property where Brenner was squatting. The last signal from the phone was at a pond in Lucin where a search located it.

Family of Dylan Rounds announces nonprofit in his memory

 

In a forensic download of the phone, investigators found a time-lapse video with a time stamp taken at the approximate time Rounds disappeared.

“The video showed Defendant (Brenner) with blood stains on his arms and shirt as he is cleaning a gun. The shirt which Defendant is wearing in the video was analyzed and the victim’s DNA was found on the shirt,” documents state. “Defendant was interviewed and made several claims that corroborated forensic evidence in addition to making numerous demonstrably false statements.”

After the charges were filed and announced, Rounds’ mother, Candice Cooley, told KSL that she wanted to thank everyone for the support she received as they sought answers about her son’s disappearance.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

One of several dead squirrels found by a Millcreek resident, leaving many people concerned to what'...

Lindsay Aerts

Dead foxes and squirrels puzzle Millcreek neighborhood

A neighborhood in Millcreek is puzzled by some strange things happening with foxes and squirrels where they live.

9 hours ago

Kouri Richins talks with her lawyers in court....

Devin Oldroyd, KSL NewsRadio

Kouri Richins defense team asks for prosecution to be dismissed

Kouri Richins’ defense team is asking that the prosecution be dismissed, alleging that prosecutors violated her Sixth Amendment rights.

9 hours ago

Anton Nootenboom, "The Barefoot Dutchman", walks across the country to bring awareness to men's men...

Ken Fall

‘The Barefoot Dutchman’ and his remarkable trek for men’s mental health

Anton Nootenboom, "The Barefoot Dutchman", makes his way across the U.S. to spread awareness for men's mental health.

11 hours ago

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gil reviews body camera video from the shooting of Alex Stew...

Pat Reavy, KSL.com

Officers legally justified in shooting of armed military veteran suffering mental health crisis

Two Taylorsville police officers who shot a military veteran suffering a mental health crisis, were legally justified in using deadly force, the Salt Lake County Attorney's Office announced Friday.

11 hours ago

Handcuffs in a jail cell. (Ravell Call/Deseret News)...

Michael Houck

Three people attempted to kidnap child with one posing a social worker, police report.

Three people planned to kidnap a child, claiming the father did not have legal custody of them, Vernal police say.

12 hours ago

The Utah Department of Transportation will shut down Bangerter Highway in both directions from 9800...

Brianna Chavez

Portion of Bangerter Highway in South Jordan to close in both directions all weekend

The Utah Department of Transportation will shut down a portion of Bangerter Highway in South Jordan in both directions from 9800 S to 10400 S from Friday, May 17 at 10 p.m. to Monday, May 21 at 5 a.m.

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

James Brenner pleads guilty to murder of Utah teen Dylan Rounds