A Utah teen accused of helping a teen girl commit suicide and filming the act will go to trial on a murder charge, a judge ordered Tuesday.
Prosecutors say 18-year-old Tyerell Przybycien’s actions in helping Jchandra Brown, 16, plan her hanging death in a wooded area in Payson Canyon in May were criminal. They’ve charged him with murder, a first-degree felony, as well as a misdemeanor count for failure to report a dead body.
Przybycien’s attorneys argued that it was ultimately the girl’s choice to commit suicide.
But in a written ruling Tuesday, 4th District Judge James Brady said there was probable cause for Przybycien to go to trial for murder because “it is reasonable to infer” that the girl would not have died on May 5 if not for the man‘s actions.
The “probable cause” standard Brady would rule on after a preliminary hearing requires the judge to draw all reasonable inferences in the prosecution‘s favor. This is a much lower standard than the “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” required for a conviction in a jury trial.
The judge wrote that if there are disputes as to whether Przybycien’s actions “proximately caused” Brown’s death — or if her death was the result of her own actions — it should be decided by a jury at trial.
Przybycien is expected to enter a plea to the charges Oct. 24.
Last week attorneys argued whether there was enough evidence for Przybycien to stand trial on the murder charges.
Przybycien’s attorney Gregory Stewart argued that while his client may have provided the materials for Brown’s suicide, the girl made the decision to kill herself — and could have changed her mind at any time.
She chose to climb on a makeshift rock pedestal and place the noose around her neck, he argued. And it was her choice, he said, to ingest compressed air, which caused her to pass out, slip from the rocks and hang herself.
But prosecutors argued that without Przybycien’s help — which included buying the rope, tying a noose and setting up the pedestal for her to stand on — Brown likely would not have died that night.
In addition, Przybycien deceived Brown, Deputy Utah County Attorney Chad Grunander said, by telling her that he would kill himself after her death.
He also bragged to others before her death that he was going to “help kill” Brown, according to prosecutors, saying it would be “like getting away with murder.”
“He had a fascination with death,” Grundander argued. “… He used her suicidal ideations for his own purposes.”
People who have suicidal thoughts can call 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or visit the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition’s website for help. A smartphone application called SafeUT also allows users to chat or call a crisis counselor and submit tips.