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Utah man suspected of killing 5-month-old son denied bail

Published April 9, 2013 8:14 am

Court • Charges have not been filed against Joshua Petersen.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • Joshua Petersen, who last week allegedly shot his 5-month-old son, Ryker Petersen, in the head with a rifle, will be held without bail, a 4th District Court judge ruled Monday morning.

Petersen will be back in court again on April 15. Charges have not been filed yet, according to court records, but Deputy Utah County Attorney Craig Johnson said Monday that his office has until the 15th to do so. Johnson said his office will review the case and file the appropriate charges once they have received all the police reports.

The fatal shooting occurred at Petersen's home near 500 East and 500 North in American Fork.

Ryker was pronounced dead at a Salt Lake City hospital. Petersen, 21, was booked into the Utah County jail on suspicion of aggravated murder, a first-degree felony.

On Monday, American Fork police Sgt. Gregg Ludlow described Ryker's death to Judge David Mortensen, which Johnson said was necessary in order to ask for the no-bail hold.

"Mr. Petersen advised that he had been planning to kill the child for about a month," Ludlow said Monday. "And decided that Friday was the day that he was going to do that."

Ludlow, who became emotional as he read the details of the case, said Petersen told police he took the child into the basement of his home and placed him on a couch. He went into another room, loaded a single round into a .22 caliber rifle, went back into the room and shot the infant in the forehead, Ludlow said.

Police said a relative stopped the man before he turned the gun on himself.

"He stated that his intention was to kill himself after that," Ludlow said during Monday's hearing.

Petersen, who appeared in court via a video feed Monday morning, appeared emotionless while the details of the case were read in court. Mortensen advised the man not to speak about the case during the hearing, since he did not yet have an attorney.

Petersen has no criminal history, according to a search of Utah court records. Depending on the severity of the homicide charge filed against him and aggravating factors, Petersen could face anything from life in prison to the death penalty.

A Paypal account has also been set up to help the family give Ryker "an amazing funeral," according to a Facebook page about a vigil that was held Sunday. Donations at Paypal are to be sent to jkfifield@gmail.com with "Baby Ryker" in the subject line.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller