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Jud Burkett
Brandon Perry Smith, right, sits with his head down in this 2013 photo.

ST. GEORGE — Testimony has begun in the trial of a southern Utah man accused of killing a 20-year-old woman in an attack that also left another woman dead.

A man who survived a gunshot wound during the violence that night testified Tuesday about finding the beaten and stabbed body of Jerrica Christensen at a St. George townhome in 2010, the Spectrum newspaper reports.

Brandon Perry Smith is charged with aggravated murder and aggravated assault. Prosecutors had been seeking the death penalty, but dropped it a year ago so the case could move more quickly.

Smith's lawyers say their now 35-year-old client was manipulated by a friend who was later convicted in the death of the second woman, 27-year-old Brandie Sue Dawn Jerden.