Teen Accused of Filming Utah Girl's Suicide Can Stand Trial: '[It's] Like Getting Away With Murder'
A Utah man who allegedly helped a 16-year-old girl hang herself and then filmed the suicide was found mentally competent to stand trial on a murder charge, PEOPLE confirms.
Judge James Brady made the ruling in the Fourth District Court in Provo on Tuesday in the case of 18-year-old Tyerell Przybycien.
Przybycien was also found competent to stand trial on the misdemeanor charge of failure to report the finding of a dead human body. The judge’s decision came after defense attorneys asked for a mental evaluation to be conducted on Przybycien.
Geoffrey Fattah, a spokesperson with Utah State Courts, tells PEOPLE that Przybycien underwent two competency evaluations.
Prosecutors allege that Przybycien purchased the rope used in the suicide and tied the noose for Jchandra Brown, who hanged herself in May 2017.
Prosecutors also allege that Przybycien was fascinated with death and excited about aiding in the girl’s suicide, allegedly sending a text to a friend, exclaiming: “[It’s] like getting away with murder!”
Defense attorneys do not dispute that Przybycien assisted in the suicide, but they have argued that the suicide note she left behind showed her suicide was her own decision.
Brown’s body was found by local turkey hunters on May 6. She was hanging by a noose from a rope tied to a tree in Payson Canyon.
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Next to Brown’s body were two grocery bags, containing receipts for the rope and aerosol air duster, as well as her phone and a handwritten note saying to watch the video on her phone for answers as to what happened.
Przybycien was allegedly found on a nearby trail crying.
In the video, which was allegedly recorded by Przybycien, Brown could be seen standing on a rock and a piece of wood, defense attorney Neil Skousen said in a previous interview with PEOPLE. Przybycien’s voice can be heard from behind the camera and then, moments later, Brown inhales the aerosol air duster while wearing the noose.
The video allegedly shows Brown giggling and then losing consciousness because of the aerosol. Brown then appears to fall and, as her body hangs, Przybycien continues to film while speaking to her, including saying, “Thumbs up if you’re okay.”
Police also found text messages Przybycien allegedly exchanged with another person about the suicide plan, according to charging documents obtained by PEOPLE.
In one text message, Przybycien allegedly asked a friend what he should do if someone wanted to kill themselves.
“Talk them out of [it],” the friend replied, according to the charging documents. To which Przybycien allegedly wrote, “The thing is.. I wanna help kill them. It be awesome. Seriously [I’m] going to help her. [It’s] like getting away with murder! [I’m] so f—– up. I’m seriously not joking. [It’s] going down in about a week or two.”
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At a preliminary hearing in August, the court heard how Przybycien admitted during a police interview that he felt remorse over his role in his friend’s death.
He also told police that he helped Brown tie her noose and had previously researched how to do so, according to the charging documents.
“I feel guilty. I feel like I did murder her,” he allegedly told investigators, according to police testimony. “I helped her so much.”
Police said Przybycien told them Brown confided in him months earlier about wanting to kill herself and in the hours before her death, Przybycien said he picked Brown up from work and drove her to two different stores to purchase the air duster and rope used to tie the noose.
Skousen said that Brown’s last wish was for Przybycien to film her and then deliver a note to her mother saying she had made the decision to kill herself on her own and that she loved her.
The teen’s family was reportedly in court during the August hearing, where video of her suicide was played. They said they hoped for justice, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
“She thought she found a friend,” Brown’s aunt told the paper, “and she found a monster.”
A pre-trial conference is scheduled for March 27, says Fattah.
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.
• With reporting by HARRIET SOKMENSUER