Man accused of filming teen's suicide hears murder evidence

Defendant Tyerell Joe Przybycien attends his preliminary hearing in 4th District Court, Provo, Utah on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. Przybycien was charged with murder after prosecutors say he filmed a teenage girl killing herself using a rope he bought for her. (Scott Sommerdorf/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

A Spanish Fork man pleaded guilty to homicide charges after he reportedly drove a high school friend to a campground in Payson Canyon and then recorded her as she died by suicide.

Tyerell Przybycien, 19, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of child abuse homicide, a first-degree felony.

He also pleaded guilty to one third-degree felony of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor.

Przybycien stood quietly in a blue jumpsuit and white glasses as he signed the guilty plea papers in 4th District Court.

“It really doesn’t make a difference because nothing has changed. Jchandra is not coming back,” said Sue Bryan, the girl’s mother, through tears. “There is nothing just for what he did.”

The homicide charge has a potential sentence of five years to life, and the third-degree felony charge has a zero to five years sentence. The board of pardons will decide the exact time Przybycien will serve after sentencing, said Chad Grunander, the prosecuting attorney on the case.

“It gives them the same tools they would have if we had convicted him of murder, which was 15 year to life,” Grunander said. “This will give the family some finality and hopefully some closure.”

The other four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, failure to report finding a human body and two charges of tampering with a witness were dismissed in the plea deal.

“It gives them the same tools they would have if we had convicted him of murder, which was 15 year to life,” Grunander said. “This will give the family some finality and hopefully some closure.”

The other four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, failure to report finding a human body and two tampering with a witness charges were dismissed in the plea deal.

The girl’s mother, Sue Bryan, said the guilty plea doesn’t make a difference to her.

At the sentencing, Bryan wore her daughter’s favorite blue and zebra-striped flower clip in her hair. The blue color in the clip matched the shade her daughter would often use to dye her own hair, Brown explained.

She did it herself. She could ombre it and everything,” Brown said with a smile, recounting how everything in the bathroom would have an “atomic teal” tint after her daughter would dye her hair.

In May 2017, Przybycien bought a rope and drove 16-year-old Jchandra Brown to the Maple Lake Campground in Payson Canyon, according to court documents.

He then recorded as she inhaled air cleaner, passed out and died from hanging, court documents stated.

A turkey hunter in the area found the girl and called authorities. Investigators found two grocery bags near the campground, along with a receipt showing the purchase of the rope and a smartphone, court records stated.

There was also a handwritten note from Brown referring to a video on the girl’s phone to “answer questions about what happened,” according to court documents.

The receipt showed Przybycien bought the rope and air duster, and investigators discovered he had stood a few feet away and recorded the girl’s suicide on the phone.

Przybycien returned to the campground the same morning investigators were at the scene, police reported. During interviews with police, Przybycien said he drove the girl from her work to the campground and tied the noose to a tree.

Police also found Przybycien sent text messages to a friend saying he wanted to help the girl with her suicide and his actions would be “like getting away with murder.”

On the day Jchandra died, Przybycien texted another friend and said he felt guilty about helping in the suicide. He also told police he felt guilty for his role in the death.

Court records show he told Brown, “I’ll make it happen for you if that’s what you want,” and later told police in interviews “I feel like I did murder her because that’s what it is.”

Przybycien researched how to tie a noose a month before when Brown told him she was suicidal, prosecutors said. He also constructed a stool the girl stood on before she passed out.

Przybycien pleaded not guilty in October 2017 to charges of murder, a first-degree felony, and one class B misdemeanor of failing to report the finding of a dead body.

A few days later, he was charged with five charges of sexual exploitation of a minor after police found images and videos of child pornography on Przybycien’s cellphone.

In September, Przybycien was charged with two counts of tampering with a witness after he wrote to a friend asking others to not speak to prosecutors, according to court documents.

The sentencing is set for Dec. 7.

“We always believed this was more than just an assisted suicide-type case,” Grunander said. “We feel very good about this conclusion.”

Bryan remembers her daughter as someone who could light up a room and make friends with anyone. Batman was her favorite superhero.

“Batman loved to rescue and save people. And that’s what Jchandra was,” Bryan said.

One of her classmates, Hannah Baldt, said she was having a hard day at school when she first met Jchandra.

“She tipped my desk over with me on top of it,” Baldt said with a laugh. “That’s the day we officially became best friends.”

During the legislative session, Jchandra Brown’s case compelled Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to sign new legislation sponsored by Rep. Mike McKell (R-Spanish Fork) that allows assisted suicide to be included in manslaughter state law.

“I have total faith and trust in my state attorneys, who have done an excellent job, Judge Brady and our system,” Bryan said. “But again, it’s never going to bring my sweet daughter back. There is never going to be justice.”

Ashley Stilson covers crime, courts and breaking news for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at 801-344-2556 or astilson@heraldextra.com.

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