Competency hearing set for Utah man accused of killing infant son

Courts • Joshua Petersen charged with aggravated murder in death of 5-month-old Ryker Petersen.
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A competency hearing has been scheduled for a 21-year-old American Fork man accused of shooting and killing his 5-month-old son in April.

Joshua Petersen is charged with first-degree felony aggravated murder for the April 5 slaying of Ryker Petersen.

Petersen appeared in Provo's 4th District Court on Monday, where a competency hearing was set for Aug. 5.

His attorney, Dusty Kawai, filed a request for the hearing last week, saying his client may be suffering from a mental disorder that is preventing him from understanding the charges against him.

Kawai wrote in the filing that Petersen has asked more than 10 times for the judge to grant home confinement instead of requiring him to remain at the Utah County Jail during court proceedings. Petersen wants the judge to allow his father to be taken into custody in exchange for his release because his father told him he would "trade places" with him if he could.

Petersen also has asked if the judge would allow him to be given "lashes" or a whipping in order to be released from jail, Kawai wrote in the filing. Kawai said when discussing penalties with Petersen, the man expressed a desire "to be put to death."

Prosecutors have yet to decide whether they will pursue the death penalty against Petersen.

Police say Petersen shot his son in the head with a .22-caliber rifle, then tried to turn the gun on himself at his home near 500 East and 500 North in American Fork. A family member reportedly intervened before he was able to take his own life.

During an April bail hearing for Petersen, American Fork Sgt. Gregg Ludlow said Petersen had been planning to kill the child for about a month.

Twitter: @jm_miller