BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
FARMINGTON — Nathan Sloop will stand trial for the death of his 4-year-old stepson Ethan Stacy in 2010.
On Thursday, 2nd District Judge Glen Dawson bound Sloop over for trial. His arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 13. Dawson told attorneys it was time “to move forward with deliberate speed.”
Sloop and his wife, Steph anie, are charged with aggravated murder, second-degree felony child abuse, second-degee felony obstruction of justice and third-degree felony abuse or desecration of a body, in the boy’s death.
Ethan Stacy’s disfigured body was found near Powder Mountain on May 11, 2011. His mother had reported him missing from the couple’s apartment.
Prosecutors want to try Sloop for capital murder based on “Shelby’s Law,” a statute that allows prosecutors to seek the death penalty when a child dies during an act of abuse, sexual assault or kidnapping. The law has yet to be used in court, so its potential implications are up for interpretation.
Whether Sloop will face the death penalty is still unclear — Dawson declined to rule on the constitutionality of the law.
In court Thursday, defense attorney Richard Mauro argued against his client’s being tried using Shelby’s Law, because the “statute is unclear and poorly written.
“The state hasn’t proved there was a reckless indifference for human life,” Mauro told Dawson.
However, Dawson agreed with prosecutors that it was too early in the proceedings for that matter to be taken up.
“I’m acting as a magistrate at this point and am limited by statute on what I can rule on,” Dawson said. “In my view I have no authority to address the constitutional issues.”
The judge will be able to rule on the appropriateness of using Shelby’s law now that Sloop has been bound over for trial.
Following the hearing, Mauro said he expected Sloop would be bound over for trial. He then reiterated his client did not intend to kill Ethan Stacy.
Mauro contends that Shelby’s law is written so broadly that any type of child abuse resulting in a death of the child could be prosecuted under the law.
A parent could be tried under Shelby’s Law if a child, who had been spanked, then medicated for those injuries, died as the result of the effects of the medication, Mauro said.
In court he referenced several cases in which a parent was tried for murder when the death was not intentional.