Jacob Ethridge

OGDEN — The man accused of gunning down two women made his first court appearance here, where he was formally charged with murder.

Jacob Daniel Ethridge, 31, appeared in 2nd District Court via video from the Weber County Jail on Tuesday, where he is being held without bail. He was formally charged with two counts of first-degree felony murder.

"Is Jacob Daniel Ethridge your true and correct name, sir?" the court clerk asked him.

"Yes," he replied.

The brief hearing was shown at the jail's downtown location, where family members of other inmates craned their necks to see an old TV behind a dirty plastic partition broadcasting the court appearances. They strained to hear the proceedings over the loud hum of vending machines in the same room.

"Do you understand what you've been charged with, sir?" Judge Parley Baldwin asked him.

Ethridge leaned in to whisper something to the attorney handling the jail arraignments.

"Well, there is a dangerous weapon enhancement. We'll see what it is," said Steven Laker. "He understands everything, but doesn't understand what that is and we didn't know about that."

The judge explained to Ethridge that he faces up to life in prison if convicted. A dangerous weapons enhancement can lead to more penalties at sentencing.

Ethridge is charged in the deaths of Teresa Rene Tingey, 43, and Rosanna Marie Cruz, 25, late Saturday night. According to a police statement filed with the charges on Tuesday, Ogden police had responded to a report of a woman dead from an apparent gunshot wound early Sunday morning, when Ethridge walked into the police department and surrendered, confessing to two slayings.

"Ethridge gave police the location of another victim he shot and killed 1/2 hour before. Police located the second dead woman. She also appeared to have died from a gunshot wound," Ogden Police detective Tim Scott wrote in an affidavit filed with the charges.

Investigators told the Deseret News that Ethridge had been having "homicidal thoughts" for the past year or so. Police allege he got into a fight with his girlfriend late Saturday night and drove to Adams Avenue, where he solicited the prostitutes and then killed them.

The accused killer qualifies for a public defender.

"We'd like to set this for a decision to preliminary hearing so we can get the police reports and assign an attorney. There may well need to be some other things that we do after that," Laker said.

A hearing was scheduled for July 21.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com