Nathan Sloop waives hearing in Ethan Stacy murder case

Posted at 4:29 PM, Mar 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-21 00:16:41-04

FARMINGTON -- The high-profile case surrounding the murder of 4-year-old Ethan Stacy has been delayed.

Nathan Sloop appeared briefly in court on Tuesday. He conditionally waived his right to a preliminary hearing, where a judge would have determined if there is enough evidence to make him stand trial on an aggravated murder charge. Sloop's lawyer, Richard Mauro, asked for the delay to review evidence in the case and prepare for legal challenges.

A waiver of a preliminary hearing can often signal that a plea deal would be in the works. Mauro told FOX 13 outside of court that no plea agreement had been reached, "at this time."

"There are always discussions about pleas in every single case that you have. But we've not reached any plea agreement at this point in time," he said.

Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said his office was not bargaining.

"We talk all the time about all kinds of things, with this case, like every other case," he said Tuesday. "Do we have plea negotiations that have been reached? No."

Nathan and Stephanie Sloop are accused of abusing Ethan Stacy so badly, he died. His body was found in a shallow grave near Powder Mountain in 2010. The case led to widespread outrage. A group of people calling themselves "Ethan's Army," have appeared at every one of the Sloop's court hearings in a showing of support for Ethan's biological father, Joe Stacy, who lives in Virginia.

On Tuesday, a judge in Farmington's 2nd District Court set a May 22 date for Nathan Sloop to enter a plea to the charge. His wife Stephanie's case is on hold until after that, her attorney Mary Corporon told the judge.

Rawlings told FOX 13 that both Nathan and Stephanie Sloop are "on track" to get the death penalty, if they are convicted.

"At this point in time, that is a very viable option," he said.