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Man waives preliminary hearing in murder of 4-year-old stepson

By Emiley Morgan | Posted - Mar 20th, 2012 @ 7:42pm

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FARMINGTON — A man accused of brutally beating and killing a 4-year-old boy has decided against a hearing on the evidence in the case against him — for the time being.

Nathan Sloop, 33, decided in a hearing before 2nd District Judge Glen Dawson Tuesday to conditionally waive his right to a preliminary hearing.

The man, who entered the courtroom carrying a large bag of court papers, confirmed that this was his decision with a simple: "Yes, your honor."

Both Sloop and Stephanie Sloop, 28, are facing capital murder charges in addition to charges of child abuse and obstructing justice, second-degree felonies, and abuse or desecration of a body, a third-degree felony, in connection with the brutal slaying of Stephanie Sloop's son, Ethan Stacy.

Nathan Sloop's defense attorney, Richard Mauro, said that while he and prosecutors were prepared to have the hearing, there were certain pieces of evidence they were still discussing. The conditional waiver allows them the freedom to ask for another preliminary hearing if they feel it necessary at some point before a scheduled May 22 arraignment.

"We continue to evaluate and look at all legal and factual issues," Mauro said. "We entered a conditional waiver because we want the case to move along."

Mauro said there are thousands of pages of evidence in the case.

Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said he was also prepared to go forward with the preliminary hearing, initially set for five days starting March 19.

"The state of Utah is ready," Rawlings said. "But we understand why, given the magnitude of this case, the defense wants to do what it wants to do."

Rawlings said the original plan to seek the death penalty against the Sloops "has not changed."

No date has been set in Stephanie Sloop's case, as her attorney, Mary Corporon, indicated Tuesday her client wants her case to trail Nathan Sloop's.

"Some of the evidentiary issues that impact Mr. Sloop's case also impact my client's case," she said. "We need those resolved. ... We want to continue her case and await this arraignment for Mr. Sloop."

Ethan Stacy died not long after he arrived in Utah from Virginia to spend the summer with his biological mother and her fiancé. Court documents list "severe abuse" as the cause of death and investigators said Ethan was abused between April 29 and May 8.

Authorities say he was left alone, locked in an apartment bedroom, while his mother went to get married because the couple feared people would call police if they saw Ethan's injuries.

After his death, the 4-year-old boy's body was found near Powder Mountain in Weber County on or around Mother's Day 2010. According to court documents, the boy's face had been disfigured and his grave had been sprinkled with dog food.

Rawlings said the boy's family has been updated on where the cases stand. He would not say how they felt about what happened Tuesday.

"They know what's happening and they understand why," he said.

There have been no plea agreements reached in the case, but attorneys on both sides indicated that there have been discussions.


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