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St. George man to stand trial in double murder case

Brandon Perry Smith, right, sits with his head down as he listens to testimony during the second day of his evidentiary hearing as he stands accused of Jerrica Christensen's murder in Fifth District Court Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013 in St. George, Utah. (Jud Burkett / The Spectrum & Daily News)

By Jessica Miller

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Oct 09 2013 09:53AM
Updated Oct 9, 2013 10:05PM

A St. George man accused of murdering a woman to keep her from testifying after a fatal shooting was ordered to stand trial Wednesday.

Brandon Perry Smith, 32, is charged in 5th District Court with aggravated murder and aggravated assault for the stabbing death of 20-year-old Jerrica Christensen.

After three days of testimony during a preliminary hearing, 5th District Judge James Shumate ruled the evidence had shown there was probable cause to believe that Smith committed the crimes. He ordered Smith to stand trial on the charges, setting an arraignment date for Nov. 20.

Prosecutors believe Smith killed Christensen to silence her just after Smith’s friend, Paul Clifford Ashton, shot and killed Brandie Sue Dawn Jerden, 27, and shot and wounded James Fiske.

But Fiske testified at Monday that he saw Smith with a gun before the shooting started.

Testifying about events leading up to the slayings, Fiske said that at about 3 a.m. on Dec. 11, 2010, he was at the apartment, located at 575 S. Main Street, with the two women, Smith and Ashton. At some point he saw Jerden "smack" Ashton.

Fiske testified that he saw Smith pull out a gun. Fiske said he heard a shot, then he stumbled out of the apartment, bleeding from a gunshot wound.

Prosecutors, however, believe Ashton fired the gun. And during Fiske’s testimony, defense attorneys pointed out that Ashton had already pleaded guilty to fatally shooting Jerden.The Spectrum of St. George reported that in an interrogation tape played in court, Smith told a police detective that he drew his own gun when Ashton pulled his gun and shot Jerden.

Smith also told police that he used a "small pipe" to beat Christensen before cutting her throat, The Spectrum reported.

Twitter: @jm_miller

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