ST. GEORGE – A St. George resident accused of playing part in a 2010 double-murder will gain additional counsel to aid in his defense.
In January, the Fifth District Court approved a motion by Gary Pendleton, attorney for Brandon Perry Smith, 32, to secure co-counsel who would be paid through the state’s Indigent Defense Fund to aid in Smith’s case. In a review hearing Wednesday, Pendleton announced that a co-counsel, has been acquired in the case.
The prosecution in Smith’s case is seeking the death penalty for the aggravated murder of 20-year-old Jerrica Christensen, of Leeds, on Dec. 11, 2010. Christensen is described as the second victim in a double-homicide that also took the life of 27-year-old Brandie Jerden, of St. George.
Joining Pendleton will be attorney Mary Corporon, of the Salt Lake City-based Vancott, Bagley Cornwell and McCarthy law firm. Judge James Shumate, who has thus far presided for the case, said he was familiar with Corporon. She previously stood before Shumate during a 2001 case involving Claudio Mauricio Martinez who was charged with the aggravated murder of John P. Anderson. Martinez was ultimately convicted and sentenced to life in prison in that case.
Pendleton said Corporon has a complete digital file and transcripts involved in the case and will be visiting with Pendleton and Smith next week.
“I’m very glad to have her,” Pendleton said. “She’s a great asset to us.”
As new counsel will be joining the case, he asked Shumate for some additional time to prepare before the next hearing.
Washington County Deputy Attorney Brian Filter agreed that additional time would be needed not only for the defense, but also the new judge who would be overseeing the case next. Shumate will be retiring at the end of the month and will be replaced by Judge Micheal Westfall.
Shumate set the next court hearing for April 18 at 9 a.m.
Smith is accused of beating Christensen and cutting her throat at the St. George home of Paul Clifford Ashton, who had shot and killed 27-year-old Brandie Jerden. He also shot and wounded James Fiske who managed to escape and call the police. Asthon pleaded guilty to the shooting of Jerden and Fiske last year and was sentenced to life in prison.
The double-murder was triggered by an argument and fight Ashton and Jerden had while Fiske and Christensen were helping Jerden move out of Ashton’s home. Smith was also at the home during the incident, and according to court documents, allegedly beat and cut Christensen so she wouldn’t testify about the incident.
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