Nathan Sloop's own words describe ugly abuse before 4-year-old's death

Defense says Ethan Stacy died from overmedication, not severe abuse

Published: Wednesday, March 27 2013 2:05 p.m. MDT

He later said they awoke and found the boy had died in his sleep and did not go to police for the same reason. 

"We chose one way or the other," Sloop told officers. "There was no going back at that point in time. … But who's going to believe us? … We made a bad decision, you know, but at the same time, what if we call 911 and we get charged with homicide?" 

Although Ethan's body was discovered May 11, police and prosecutors believe the boy was actually buried on May 8. Early that morning, his mother went to a Walgreen's to develop photographs, according to a statement read from a witness at the store. 

"Stephanie Sloop came into store to develop pictures around 1 a.m.," Roderick read from the statement, "She said, 'That's my son and he died this morning.' She didn't seem very disheveled for having lost her son."

Surveillance video from May 8 showed Stephanie Sloop buying lighter fluid and two ice drinks from a gas station. She and her husband planned a dinner date at a Salt Lake City sushi restaurant, but instead went to Tepanyaki restaurant on May 10. 

That same day, she and her husband bought a vacuum and other cleaning supplies and cleaned their apartment, police said. 

Defense attorneys also said Wednesday that Sloop had been undergoing "therapeutic treatment" for his mental health issues for 12 years and was on a prescription regimen involving more than 4,000 pills in 11 months. They also said Sloop and his wife had health care concerns about the boy before he arrived and had contacted health care providers when the child was burned in the bathtub and when he escaped from the couple's apartment.

In addition to capital murder, Sloop is charged with obstructing justice and intentionally inflicting serious injury on a child, second-degree felonies; and desecration of a dead body, a third-degree felony. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, although Mauro said Wednesday they will not dispute the obstruction or desecration charges, as well as a charge of damaging a jail, a third-degree felony.

Stephanie Sloop faces identical charges, except for damaging a jail. A preliminary hearing in her case has not occurred.

E-mail: emorgan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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