Utah Lawmakers Seek to Amend State Law After Teen Helps Another Teen Commit Suicide
On May 5, 2017, the body of 16-year-old Jchandra Brown was found hanging from a tree by a turkey hunter in Payson Canyon, Utah.
After one of Brown's classmates admitted he helped Brown kill herself by talking to her about suicide, purchasing the rope used in the hanging, driving Brown to the remote scene of her death, and even to filming her suicide, he was charged with first degree felony murder.
However questions arose as to whether then-existing state law regarded the act of helping and even encouraging someone to commit suicide to rise to the level of murder.
Ultimately the 18-year-old defendant pled guilty to the lesser crime of child abuse homicide. He was sentenced to five years to life imprisonment in December 2018.
Some including Utah State Representative Michael McKell believe manslaughter charges were in order.
Rep. McKell is sponsoring a bill that would amend Utah's manslaughter statute to cover acts where someone encourages or helps someone else to commit suicide, making it a second degree felony.