Utah teen accused of filming his friend’s suicide is now facing new charges for witness tampering

(Scott Sommerdorf | Tribune file photo) In this Aug. 23, 2017, photo, defendant Tyerell Przybycien waits for the start of his preliminary hearing in 4th District Court, Provo. Przybycien is accused of encouraging a teen friend to hang herself and filming it because he was fascinated with death.

A Utah teen accused of helping a teen girl commit suicide and filming the act is now facing new charges for witness tampering.

Tyerell Przybycien, now 19, has been charged with murder for the May 2017 death of 16-year-old Jchandra Brown.

Prosecutors this week slapped Przybycien with more felony charges — two counts of tampering with a witness — for allegedly sending a letter to a friend encouraging that friend and others to not speak with prosecutors as the date of his December murder trial nears.

“Because trial is coming, I hear the prosecutors have been vexing you,” Przybycien wrote, according to charging documents. “I will encourage you to use your right to remain silent as anything YOU say is held against ME in court.”

The letter also instructs the friend to tell four other friends to not speak with police or prosecutors.

Prosecutors say this letter amounts to witness tampering. Deputy Utah County Attorney Chad Grunander wrote in charging documents that while it’s possible Przybycien “may have [mistaken] or misunderstood the law” when he wrote the letter, ignorance of the law in not a defense.

Defense attorneys have argued that while Przybycien 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, they say. And it was her choice, defense attorneys have argued, 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.

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.”

Przybycien also faces a misdemeanor charge for failing to report a dead body, as well as child porn charges for images police allegedly found on his cellphone while investigating Brown’s death.