After spending nearly a year looking for him, the state is losing no time in bringing fugitive Steven Ray Stout to justice.
Less than 48 hours after a state plane landed at the Salt Lake International Airport with Stout and two West Valley City detectives aboard, Stout had been arraigned and scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 18.Stout is charged with two counts of criminal homicide and murder in the first degree in connection with the January killings of Bonnie Craft, 41, and her 19-year-old daughter, Maureen Turner, both of West Valley City. Stout is also charged with felony theft in connection with the taking of a car owned by Craft
The murder charge carries a possible death penalty.
On Thursday, Fifth Circuit Court Judge Eleanor Van Sciver set the preliminary hearing for Dec. 21. However, Stout's attorney asked the court for more time to prepare his defense. Van Sciver set the January date in court Friday morning.
The murders of Craft and Turner were exceptionally brutal. Craft was severely beaten, stabbed and strangled. Police determined that any of the three types of assault were severe enough to have killed her. Turner was stabbed in the back and bludgeoned in the head. Stout had been married to Craft's stepdaughter.
Stout was arrested in Mississippi on Dec. 7, nine days after being placed on the FBI's Most Wanted list. He was turned in to Mississippi authorities after his girlfriend recognized him on a nationally broadcast television program, "America's Most Wanted." The television program recounted the murders of the two West Valley City women. It also featured videotape footage of Stout taken during a family vacation when Stout was married to Craft's step-daughter.
Stout had been the object of a nationwide search that had been centering in the West Virginia area since midsummer when he was allegedly spotted by Webster Springs police driving a relative's car. The driver of the car eluded police and remained at large. Later, a cave was discovered which police believe Stout had lived in during his stay in West Virginia.
When arrested, he was working as a construction laborer in Mississippi.
Stout was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a 1970 case in Ohio in which a man was killed with a shotgun. He served three years of a four-to-25 year sentence before being released.
West Valley Police Lt. Richard Sweeney and Detective Ron Edwards flew to Mississippi to return Stout to Utah to face the murder charges. Sweeney said he and Edwards interviewed several people while in Mississippi but probably won't bring any out-of-state witnesses to Utah to testify for the state against Stout.
Stout was cooperative with officers during the extradition process, Sweeney said.