Stephanie Sloop case on hold while attorneys seek 'exculpatory' material
Steve Griffin, Pool
FARMINGTON — The case against a Layton woman accused of killing her 4-year-old son is on hold while attorneys determine how to handle "exculpatory" information in the case.
Stephanie Sloop, 31, is charged with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, and other charges in the 2010 death of Ethan Stacy. On Tuesday, defense attorney Mary Corporon told a judge that prosecutors have information that could potentially exonerate her client.
Attorneys did not specify what kind of information they were talking about.
"There is a competing constitutional claim as to whether that can be released or not," Corporon said, asking for a court order to have the information released.
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said prosecutors are willing to hand the materials over, but that the conflict is with attorneys for Sloop's husband, Nathan Sloop.
"(Corporon) has accurately stated the dilemma," Rawlings said. "We disclosed it. She ought to have access to it. Quite frankly, the state of Utah also would like to seek an order from the court ordering us or allowing us to turn the material over."
Second District Judge Glen Dawson said he didn't think that he could make that decision, but said he would set an evidentiary hearing after Nathan Sloop's attorneys become involved.
Stephanie Sloop's case had been trailing the case of Nathan Sloop, who pleaded guilty but mentally ill last week to aggravated murder, a capital offense, in Ethan's death. He was immediately sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Corporon said Tuesday that the "outstanding issues" in her client's case and her knowledge about the exculpatory materials kept her from being able to proceed with the case.
"We have no choice but to waive the right to speedy preliminary hearing and trial and request this material," she said. Sloop, who cried after entering the courtroom, confirmed before the judge that she would waive those rights.
Ethan died in 2010, just days after he arrived in Utah from Virginia to spend the summer with his mother and her then-fiancé, as part of a court-ordered custody agreement. Prosecutors said the child was severely abused, scalded, beaten, overmedicated and not given the medical care that he needed between April 29 and May 8.
After Ethan died and was buried, Sloop reported to police that her son had slipped away from their Layton apartment in the middle of the night. After searches were conducted, officers noticed inconsistencies in their stories and later located his body buried near Powder Mountain.
The 4-year-old's body had been disfigured with a hammer and the shallow grave had been sprinkled with dog food. Ethan had been burned over 17 percent of his body.
In addition to aggravated murder, Stephanie Sloop is also charged with inflicting serious injury on a child and obstructing justice, second-degree felonies, and abuse or desecration of a human body, a third-degree felony.
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