OGDEN -- A judge has thrown out an "extreme emotional distress" defense for Jacob Ethridge, whose trial begins Monday on charges he murdered two women.
Ethridge, 32, faces the death penalty if convicted in the July 13, 2008, shooting of two women in downtown Ogden. He has been held in Weber County Jail without bail since his arrest the night of the slayings.
Killed were Teresa Rene Tingey, 43, and Rosanna Marie Cruz, 25. Both worked as prostitutes on Adams Avenue in the area of 26th and 24th streets where they were slain.
Police say Ethridge admitted to the shootings after fantasizing for a year about killing someone.
Second District Judge W. Brent West ruled Tuesday in favor of a prosecution motion blocking the psychological testimony of two defense experts as part of the defense theory of "extreme emotional distress."
Those experts would have testified to Ethridge's mental health issues since adolescence and his going off his medications in the weeks before the shootings.
Deputy Weber County Attorney Chris Shaw argued successfully that any "extreme emotional distress" defense, by law, cannot include any connection to mental illness.
And the incidents inducing the distress, or "provocative events contemporaneous with the criminal behavior," are clearly defined by case law, Shaw said, and must be much more serious than the "triggers" the defense planned to present at trial.
Randy Richards, part of Ethridge's public defender team, outlined those events as including Ethridge's argument with his girlfriend that night, and the propositioning by the prostitutes a half-hour apart after he went off on his own, wandering downtown Ogden following the argument at a Roy restaurant.
Worse, Richards said, was Ethridge's failure to take his psychotropic medication, which went unspecified in court.
"He didn't know the potential side effects with his decision to stop taking his medications," Richards argued. "The exacerbation of the side effects already present were unforeseen by the doctors or Jacob.
" ... This is not mental illness. This is a reaction to medication."
Richards also disagreed with "law enforcement's statement that this was a yearlong fantasy."
But West found in favor of the prosecutors, saying, "I'm satisfied there was no highly provocative triggering event."
Trial begins Monday and is scheduled through virtually all of November, with jury selection expected to take at least three days.
If convicted, Ethridge faces possible sentences of execution, life in prison or life with possibility of parole.
After the shootings, Ethridge drove to his parents' house and told family what had happened, police said. His parents then drove him to the Ogden police station, where he confessed again.
He spoke freely about the killings, police said, saying he'd fantasized about casually shooting people for more than a year. Both women were killed with a single shot to the head.