Utah's top 10 stories of 2010

Published: Sunday, Dec. 26 2010 8:00 p.m. MST

Joe Stacy, his fiance Becky Elswick and his mother Peggy Jo Akers comfort each other after services for Ethan Stacy.__Douglas Brian Fox, husband of slain Millard County Sheriff Deputy Josie Greathouse Fox, and Melissa Fuller, her best friend, get emotional at a ceremony for the fallen deputy.__Workers from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Hogel Zoo move birds in Liberty Park affected by oil spill.__BYU's Jake Heaps is tackled in Provo. Both Utah and BYU played their last games as members of the MWC in 2010.__An air tanker drops fire retardant over the so-called machine gun fire which burned homes in Herriman.__This banner with notes written to James and Jean Warhola was posted in the Layton neighborhood where the bodies of the two children, ages 8 and 7, were found on Sept. 8.__This is the chair used in the fire squad execution of convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner June 17.

Matt Gillis , Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The trial and conviction of Brian David Mitchell for the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart more than eight years ago was selected as the top story of 2010 by Deseret News and KSL readers and viewers.

Those casting votes bypassed mid-term elections, painful economic news, school budget cuts and controversy over immigration and gay rights, to home in on tragedies close to home, from the death of several Utah children to a raging fire that destroyed houses and the long-delayed execution of a convicted killer.

Here are the readers' choice top 10 stories of the year, based on a poll on Deseretnews.com and ksl.com:

No. 1: Brian David Mitchell was found guilty in federal court of charges he kidnapped and sexually assaulted Elizabeth Smart, eight years after he took the 14-year-old from her home at knifepoint. During the five-week trial she testified in detail about her nine months in captivity.

"I hope that not only is this an example that justice can be served in America, but that it is possible to move on after something terrible has happened, and that we can speak out and we will be heard," a beaming Smart, now 23, told the media shortly after the jury rejected Mitchell's insanity defense and convicted him of all charges.

Smart is currently a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in France.

Mitchell sentencing is set for May 25, 2011.

No 2: The body of 4-year-old Ethan Stacy was found in a remote area near Powder Mountain in May, hours after his mother and stepfather said the little boy had wandered away during the night from their Layton apartment. The two, Stephanie and Nathan Sloop, have been charged with killing the boy, who had arrived in Utah just two weeks before from Virginia, where he lived with his father. He was in Utah to spend the summer with his mother as part of court-ordered visitation.

No. 3: The Herriman fire. Utah National Guardsmen were doing a routine machine gun training exercise at Camp Williams Sept. 19, when wind turned what they first thought was a defeatable small grass fire into an inferno that climbed over a hill into the residential area that borders the camp to the north. The Herriman fire ultimately consumed more than 4,300 acres and destroyed several homes, besides forcing evacuation of hundreds of Herriman residents.

No. 4: Deputies are shot. Deputies Josie Greathouse Fox and Brian Harris, were shot and killed, while a park ranger, Brody Young, was critically injured this year in separate incidents.

Fox, a Millard County sheriff's deputy, was gunned down while making a traffic stop in January. Roberto Miramontes Roman faces capital murder charges in her death and a friend of his, Ruben Chavez Reyes, has been found guilty of obstruction of justice in connection with her death.

Harris, a Kane County sheriff's deputy, was chasing a burglary suspect in August when he was shot and killed just over the Utah-Arizona border. Scott Curley, 23, has been charged in Arizona with first-degree murder and other charges in connection with Harris' death.

Young was shot multiple times while he was patrolling south of Moab near the Poison Spider Mesa Trail in November. Police believe his suspected assailant, Lance Leeroy Arrellano, may have been injured by Young's return fire. Arrellano, they say, disappeared into the Red Rock desert country and has never been found, fueling speculation that he died there. Young is still recovering from his wounds.

No. 5: Pesticide tech charged with homicide. Sisters Rebecca, 4, and Rachel Toone, 15 months, died within three days after pest-control tech Cole Nocks used powerful chemicals to combat a vole infestation in the yard of the girls' Layton home. Prosecutors say the chemicals were used improperly and Nocks has entered a not-guilty plea to misdemeanor criminal charges.

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