FARMINGTON — For the first time since Ethan Stacy was brutally killed in 2010, the evidence against the man facing the death penalty in the boy's slaying will finally be presented in court.
Nathan Sloop, 34, will hear what evidence prosecutors have against him during a preliminary hearing set to begin next week on March 27. On Monday, attorneys on both sides of the case confirmed that they are set to proceed for the hearing, which is expected to last three to four days.
In addition to capital murder, Sloop is facing charges of obstructing justice and intentionally inflicting serious injury on a child, both second-degree felonies; and desecration of a dead body, a third-degree felony, in the death of 4-year-old Ethan. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The boy's mother, Stephanie Sloop, 30, is facing identical charges, but prosecutors have not stated whether or not they will seek the death penalty in her case. Her next court appearance is April 12.
The boy died not long after he arrived in Utah from Virginia to spend the summer with his biological mother and her then-fiancé. Court documents list "severe abuse" as the cause of death and investigators said Ethan was abused between April 29 and May 8.
Authorities say he was left alone, locked in an apartment bedroom, while his mother went to marry Nathan Sloop because the couple feared people would call police if they saw Ethan's injuries.
After his death, the young boy's body was found near Powder Mountain in Weber County. Prosecutors say the boy's face had been disfigured and his grave had been sprinkled with dog food.
A hearing on the evidence against Nathan Sloop was first scheduled for February 2011, but was continued due to "evidentiary issues." He conditionally waived his right to the hearing more than a year later, in March 2012, but he later changed his mind and asked that the hearing take place.
At the end of the preliminary hearing, Judge Glen Dawson will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to order the man to stand trial on the charges.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company