PROVO — After police say he videotaped his 16-year-old friend kill herself, a Spanish Fork man now charged with murder allegedly texted another friend saying, "I helped her do it."
Tyerell Przybycien, 18, was charged in 4th District Court Thursday with murder, a first-degree felony, and desecration of a human body, a class B misdemeanor. Police say he helped the girl acquire and tie a rope to hang herself with, then recorded the girl's death on her cellphone.
Przybycien and Jchandra Brown, 16, were both students at Spanish Fork High School, although Przybycien hadn't attended since March.
Hunters found Jchandra hanging from a rope near Maple Lake in Payson on Saturday. Two plastic grocery bags and a can of industrial strength air duster were located near the body, according to charging documents.
In one bag was a cellphone and a handwritten suicide note identifying Jchandra and referring to a video on her phone "to answer questions about what happened," the charges state. Police say a receipt in the bag for the purchase of a rope included Przybycien's name on the credit card information.
During the approximately 10- to 11-minute video, Przybycien is seen checking the girl's pulse and talking to her every once in a while to see if she has died, according to the sheriff's office.
"At no point did the defendant offer assistance to save (her) life or render aid but rather he can be heard commenting that her body should be depleted from any oxygen," charging documents state.
Przybycien returned to the scene while police were still there. He told deputies he picked up his friend from work Friday night, had purchased the air duster and the rope, drove the victim to the location, helped tie a noose, and recorded while the girl fell unconscious and died, according to the charges.
Przybycien also allegedly told police that he had told Jchandra he intended to kill himself as well, and that he felt guilty about the role he played in Jchandra's death.
Charging documents say Przybycien texted a friend just before midnight Friday, saying: "Bro It happened. I helped her do it too and I feel so guilty."
Przybycien also had a text conversation with a friend on April 19, asking what that friend would do if they knew someone was considering suicide.
When the friend replied, "Talk them out of (it)," charging documents indicate Przybycien replied: "The thing is … I wanna help kill them. It be awesome. Seriously im going to help her. Its like getting away with murder! Im so (expletive) up. I’m seriously not joking. Its going down in about a week or two."
Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said Monday that the two were friends, and that Jchandra had struggled with mental health issues and thoughts of suicide in the past.
At Przybycien's initial court appearance Thursday, prosecutor Chad Grunander said the state is "comfortable with our charging decision."
"This is not reckless endangerment. We did not feel like a class A misdemeanor was sufficient for this conduct and what resulted to this young girl," he said.
Grunander noted that the state of Utah does not have a statue addressing assisted suicide, as some have called the death, but maintains the allegations fit the state's definition of murder in four ways.
In filing the murder charge, prosecutors accuse Przybycien of "intentionally or knowingly" causing the girl's death by committing acts "clearly dangerous to human life," or killing her while "engaged in the commission or attempted commission of child abuse." The charges also allege that Przybycien "acted under circumstances evidencing a depraved indifference to human life and knowingly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death."
Przybycien is charged with desecration of a body for allegedly failing to report the death to police.
Grunander also asked 4th District Judge Thomas Low to raise bail from $20,000 cash to $500,000 cash only, citing Przybycien's April 19 text messages. The judge granted the request.
"There is quite a bit of planning that went into this, your honor," Grunander said.
Asking for higher bail, Grunander also noted that Przybycien has talked about committing suicide himself, and that evidence was found on his cellphone indicating he viewed child pornography in the hours after watching the teen take her own life. The prosecutor said his office is reviewing whether to file additional charges against the man in connection with that allegation.
Grunander confirmed following the hearing that images of the victim were not found on Przybycien's phone.
Jchandra's family did not comment following the hearing, but prosecutors met with the family Thursday and Grunander said they are supportive of the charges.
The family has created a fundraiser* page on Facebook for those wishing to contribute to funeral expenses for the teen.
Przybycien returns to court May 30 before 4th District Judge James Brady.
The Utah Department of Health offers suicide prevention help at utahsuicideprevention.org/suicide-prevention-basic. The national crisis hotline is 1-800-784-2433.