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Competency hearing delayed for Utah man accused of killing infant son

Published August 6, 2013 6:45 am

Courts • Joshua Petersen charged with aggravated murder in death of 5-month-old Ryker 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This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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 • A Monday competency hearing for a 21-year-old American Fork man accused of shooting and killing his 5-month-old son in April has been continued until September.

Joshua Petersen is charged in 4th District Court with first-degree felony aggravated murder for the April 5 slaying of Ryker Petersen.

Petersen appeared in court on Monday, where a competency hearing had been scheduled at the request of his defense attorney. However, attorney Dusty Kawai told Judge Darold McDade that while two competency evaluations were complete, the reports had some "statutory discrepancies" that needed to be addressed before a ruling on whether Petersen is competent to stand trial on the charge can be made.

Another competency hearing was set for Sept. 9.

Kawai filed a written request for the hearing in June, saying his client may be suffering from a mental disorder that is preventing him from understanding the charges against him.

Kawai wrote in the filing that Petersen has asked more than 10 times for the judge to grant home confinement instead of requiring him to remain at the Utah County Jail during court proceedings. Petersen has also asked if the judge would allow his father to be taken into custody in exchange for his release because his father told him he would "trade places" with him if he could, according to the defense attorney.

Petersen also has asked if the judge would allow him to be given "lashes" or a whipping, in order to be released from jail, Kawai wrote in the filing. Kawai said when discussing penalties with Petersen, the man expressed a desire "to be put to death."

Prosecutors have yet to decide whether they will pursue the death penalty against Petersen.

Police say Petersen shot his son in the head with a .22-caliber rifle, then tried to turn the gun on himself at his home near 500 East and 500 North in American Fork. A family member reportedly intervened before he was able to take his own life.

During an April bail hearing for Petersen, American Fork Sgt. Gregg Ludlow said Petersen had been planning to kill the child for about a month.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller