State Responds to Motion to Keep Press from Hearings in Double Homicide Case

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St. George Police Action
double homicide st. george utah
Paul Ashton

ST. GEORGE – The state responded yesterday to 23 motions filed by Paul Ashton and his defense attorney in the double homicide that took the lives of Jerrica Christensen and Brandie Sue Dawn Jerden last December.

The majority of the motions asked that the defense have access to evidence and be able to inspect, examine and test physical evidence. The defense further asked that Ashton be prohibited from being exhibited in jail clothing in the courtroom, which the prosecution objected to except in the case of a trial. In a response filed with the 5th District Court, the prosecution said it would be an “undue burden for proceedings where jurors are not present.”

The state also objected to giving the defense dates of birth and social security numbers of all witnesses.

The defense also asked that Ashton’s pretrial evidentiary hearings be closed to the press. The state responded that they are “neutral” on that motion and that “Supreme Court proceedings imposes heavy constitutional burden to close public proceedings.”

The defense included in the motions to receive all “disciplinary employment and/or other records on all L.E.O.S. [law enforcement officers] involved in the case, however tangentially [slightly connected].” According to the response, the state argued that the case does not “justify a fishing expedition into the private employment records of those only ‘tangentially’ involved.” The state indicated those records are private and legally classified.

The court has not yet issued its ruling on the motions.

Ashton was arrested in December after officers interviewed several people of interest in the murders of Christensen, 20, of Santa Clara and Jerden, 27, of St. George. James Fisk of St. George was treated at Dixie Regional Medical Center for a gunshot wound.

double homicide st. george utah
Brandon Perry Smith

Brandon Smith was also arrested as a suspect in the case. A preliminary hearing for Smith was set for Nov. 3 and 4 after a review hearing yesterday. Prosecuting Attorney Brian Filter said the state must show probable cause that a crime was committed and that Smith committed that crime in each of the counts alleged.

* Persons accused are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2011, all rights reserved.

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