A judge ruled Tuesday that a Utah teen accused of assisting his friend in killing herself will go to trial on murder charges, PEOPLE confirms.
Tyerell Pryzbycien, 18, will stand trial in the death of Jchandra Brown, 16, who hanged herself from a tree in Payson Canyon County last May.
Prosecutors allege Pryzbycien helped Brown plan and carry out her suicide by buying supplies like rope and a can of aerosol air duster, which Brown inhaled, as well as filming her death. A 10-minute video Przybycien allegedly recorded of Brown hanging herself as well as text messages he allegedly exchanged with another person about the suicide plan were filed as evidence for the judge’s consideration.
On Tuesday, Fourth District Court Judge James Brady ruled there was probable cause for Pryzbcien to go to trial after hearing arguments by the prosecution and defense the week before.
In court documents obtained by PEOPLE, Brady ruled that “it is reasonable to infer” that Pryzbcien allegedly “acted with depraved indifference to human life.” Brady ruled if he hadn’t allegedly encouraged Brown to kill herself, provided her with a plan, chosen the location of the hanging and agreed to deliver her suicide note to her parents, she may still be alive today.
In addition to murder, Przybycien has been charged with failure to report a body, a Fourth District Court official tells PEOPLE.
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While Przybycien’s attorney, Neil Skousen, does not dispute that his client was involved in Brown’s suicide, last week he argued that the murder charge was unwarranted and that Brown’s suicide was her own decision. She could have changed her mind at anytime, Skousen told the court.
In an email statement to PEOPLE, Skousen wrote, “None of [Przybycien’s] actions ’caused’ the death of Ms. Brown. Her putting the noose around her neck, stepping onto the pedestal, and inhaling the compressed air so she passed out and slipped from the pedestal caused her death.”
He added, “These intervening acts of Ms. Brown, we argue, and not Tyerell’s actions, caused her death.”
In August, the court heard how during police questioning, Przybycien told investigators that he felt bad for what had happened.
“I feel guilty. I feel like I did murder her,” he allegedly told investigators, according to police testimony. “I helped her so much.”
Przybycien has not yet entered a plea.
A Fatal Scene
Charging documents previously obtained by PEOPLE show that Brown’s body was found by local turkey hunters on May 6.
A phone with video of Brown’s death, allegedly recorded by Przybycien, was left near her body.
Also next to Brown’s body were two grocery bags with receipts for the rope and aerosol air duster, as well as a handwritten note saying to watch the video on her phone for an explanation of her suicide.
In the video, Brown appears to be standing on a rock and a piece of wood. Przybycien’s voice can allegedly be heard from behind the camera and then, moments later, Brown inhales the aerosol air duster while wearing the noose, Skousen previously told PEOPLE.
Skousen said the video shows Brown giggling and then losing consciousness because of the aerosol — an apparent attempt to ease her suicide.
Brown appears to fall and, as her body hangs, Przybycien continues to film while speaking to her, including saying, “Thumbs up if you’re okay.”
Suicide Prevention: What to Know
Experts say some common warning signs of suicide include discussing a desire to die or feeling anxious or hopeless, like a burden, or trapped or in pain; withdrawing from others; extreme mood swings, including anger and recklessness; and abnormal sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little).
Many suicides have multiple causes and are not triggered by one event, according to experts, who underline that suicidal crises can be overcome with help. Where mental illness is a factor, it can be treated.
Reaching out to those in need is a simple and effective preventative measure, experts say.
If you or someone you know is showing warning signs of suicide, consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK, texting the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or seeking help from a professional.