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WEST JORDAN — In May 2020, Ethan Robert Hunsaker, 26, called police to report that he had killed someone in his home.
Police found that Ashlyn Black and been choked and stabbed after connecting with Hunsaker on Tinder, arranging to meet him at a bar and then going to his home. Hunsaker reported to police that he had thoughts about killing himself and others daily and asked them to end his life.
Third District Judge David Connors determined Wednesday after considering a mental health report and testimony that Hunsaker who pleaded "guilty but with mental illness" in June to murder, a first-degree felony, currently has a mental illness, allowing the case to move toward sentencing.
Hunsaker initially pleaded not guilty, and the prosecution said that they did not intend to offer a plea deal.
Both the attorney for Hunsaker, Mark Arrington, and the attorneys for the prosecution, Jason Nelson and Brandon Poll, agreed that Hunsaker has a mental illness. The prosecutors wanted to provide more information and asked Jess Dunn, who completed the mental health evaluation for Hunsaker, to testify about what she thinks would be appropriate for him.
Dunn diagnosed Hunsaker with major depressive disorder, recurrent with psychotic features, generalized anxiety disorder and severe alcohol use disorder, which is currently in remission due to incarceration. Hunsaker is currently taking medications for these mental illnesses, and told Dunn that he was taking medication for the illnesses at the time of the murder, however, he was also using alcohol at that time.
In response to questions, Dunn confirmed that Hunsaker has been moved to an individual cell after reporting homicidal thoughts. She said that the Utah State Hospital would likely keep him in his own room as well so that he would not be not a danger to others and he would be under constant surveillance by medical professionals.
At the state hospital, he would be able to receive intensive treatment, which Dunn said could help with his social anxiety, depression and psychosis.
"I believe that Mr. Hunsaker should be transferred to the Utah State Hospital for treatment and that the treatment will likely help with some of the symptoms and thoughts he's experiencing," Dunn said.
The lawyers scheduled the sentencing for Hunsaker on Jan. 12, 2022. At that point, the judge will determine whether to send him to the Utah State Prison, retain jurisdiction but send him to the Utah State Hospital for up to 18 months, or to place him under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Corrections to remain at the Utah State Hospital for treatment and potentially be transferred to the prison at a later time.