Stepfather told police death of Ethan Stacy was 'an accident'

Prosecutors say severe abuse caused boy's death after just 10 days with couple

Published: Thursday, March 28 2013 6:50 p.m. MDT

Mauro said the Sloops also consulted with Davis Family Physicians, where he said Nathan Sloop was given a number of prescriptions including Lortab, Valium and Percocet totaling as many as 650 pills in March 2010 and 4,146 pills over 11 months. Roderick said police didn't ask about the prescriptions, although they did give the prescribed doses to Sloop when he was in police custody.

The level of culpability between Stephanie and Nathan Sloop is also a factor in the case, Mauro argued, saying that police interviews showed Sloop was willing to take the fall for his wife. 

While Sloop was heard during a police interview saying he pushed the boy into scalding water, defense attorneys pointed out that he also told police that bathing the child wasn't his responsibility. Mauro read a text message from Stephanie Sloop to a man in Washington that indicated she was present when Ethan was burned. She said in the message that she turned her back and the boy got burned, then said he had been "grumpy" since then and described him as a "time bomb."

Mauro also questioned whether Sloop actually recanted a statement asking for an attorney when he was read his Miranda rights, and wondered why police asked his client about certain causes of death, including suffocation. Roderick said one initial police theory came from Stephanie Sloop and others from detectives.

Text messages exchanged between Nathan and Stephanie Sloop that were read in court Wednesday referred to the couple's desire to "break" the boy and "break his ego." His body was found near Powder Mountain in Weber County in a grave sprinkled with dog food.  Ethan had been burned over 17 percent of his body and his face had been disfigured with a hammer because "Stephanie was worried about his dental records," Nathan Sloop said.

The couple reported Ethan missing from their Layton apartment just before midnight on May 10. His body was found about 17 hours later.

In addition to capital murder, Sloop is also charged with obstructing justice and intentionally inflicting serious injury on a child, both second-degree felonies; and desecration of a dead body, a third-degree felony. A judge is expected to determine Friday whether he will stand trial for those charges.

Stephanie Sloop, 30, is facing identical charges. Her next court appearance is April 12.

E-mail: emorgan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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