PROVO -- An American Fork man accused of fatally shooting his 5-month-old son is competent to stand trial, a state judge ruled Monday morning.
Joshua Petersen, 21, is accused of placing his son, Ryker, on a sofa and shooting him in the head with a rifle on April 5. Petersen then tried to kill himself before a family member intervened, police said.
On Monday, Fourth District Judge Darold McDade ruled Petersen was competent to stand trial for aggravated murder after reviewing two mental health evaluations.
Petersen wasn't thinking clearly at the time of the shooting, his attorney Dusty Kawai told the Daily Herald of Provo.
"The question people ask is how can someone in their right mind do this?" Kawai said. "He was not in his right mind. He was severely depressed. He didn't do it out of anger or spite. He wanted to leave this life and its pains behind. This was a tragic accident for him."
Investigators have said Petersen plotted for a month to shoot his son because he was upset when his girlfriend, who was the boy's mother, broke up with him.
Members of his family said he suffered from lifelong depression.
Petersen has been extremely depressed since the shooting, Kawai said, and was on suicide watch at the Utah County Jail for several weeks.
In June, Kawai requested a competency hearing for his client, saying Petersen has asked if the judge would allow him to be whipped or given "lashes" in order to be released from jail, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Petersen has also asked if the judge would allow his father to be held in custody in exchange for Petersen's release because his father said he would "trade places" with him if he could, Kawai said.
Petersen is being held without bond.
Prosecuting attorney Craig Johnson said Monday that his team has not yet decided whether they will seek the death penalty against Petersen.
He also could face life in prison if convicted.