ST. GEORGE -- A St. George man accused in the shooting death of a 20-year-old woman is headed to trial after a judge ruled there's enough evidence for a possible death penalty case.
A Fifth District Court judge ruled Wednesday that there are aggravating factors in the murder case against Brandon Perry Smith, who's accused of shooting 20-year-old Jerrica Christensen.
Christensen was killed in a December 2010 altercation at a St. George townhome that also left 27-year-old Brandie Sue Dawn Jerden dead.
Another man, 34-year-old Paul Ashton, pleaded guilty in July to killing Jerden in his home. He's been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
During a three-day evidentiary hearing this week, prosecutors with the Washington County Attorney's Office argued there were six aggravating factors in the murder case against Smith, which would allow for a death sentence if he's convicted, The Spectrum of St. George reported (http://bit.ly/17hL3ub ) Thursday.
Judge James Shumate agreed with prosecutors on four of the aggravating factors, which included considerations that Christensen's death was part of an incident where other people were killed and that the murder was committed in a heinous or cruel fashion.
Prosecutors have 60 days to file a notice with the court that they're pursuing a death sentence.
In addition to the aggravated murder charge, Smith is charged with aggravated assault after prosecutors said he pointed a gun a Jerden and 30-year-old James Fiske, who also was in the home.
Smith's co-defendant, Ashton, was also convicted of shooting Fiske, who survived and testified against Smith this week.
Smith's defense attorney Gary Pendleton said Ashton convinced his client to get involved in the altercation, which prosecutors disputed.
Evidence in case indicates Smith knew he was involving himself and that he brought guns to Ashton, said prosecuting attorney Brian Filter.
Smith is scheduled to appear for an arraignment on Nov. 20.