UPDATE 7:25 p.m.: “We’re going to argue that it shouldn’t be bound over,” defense attorney Richard Mauro told reporters outside of court after the day’s testimony had ended.
Defense attorneys are expected to cross examine Detective Roderick tomorrow afternoon.
“There’s lots of information and that’s why we have an opportunity to cross-examine the witness. Because there’s some different evidence that exists and we hope to explore those avenues tomorrow and the next day,” Mauro said.
Asked about his claim that Ethan Stacy died of a drug overdose and and not abuse, Mauro told FOX 13: “It helps our client because he didn’t intend to kill Ethan Stacy.”
UPDATE 4:32 p.m.: After Ethan Stacy had been buried in a shallow grave on May 8, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said Nathan and Stephanie Sloop had decided to “move on.”
They purchased cleaning supplies and a new vacuum, Rawlings said.
The day the boy was buried, Nathan Sloop allegedly sent a text message to his wife: “Baby can you get antioxidant vitamins please. That would be great. I can’t wait to take you to Happy Sumo. Memories. Love you!!!”
The pair also exchanged more sexually charged text messages over the next few days, Rawlings pointed out. They also went out to restaurants after cleaning, he alleged.
Rawlings switched to a series of text messages Nathan and Stephanie Sloop allegedly sent to Ethan’s biological father, Joe Stacy.
On April 30 (two days after Ethan arrived to be with his mother), Nathan Sloop allegedly sent Joe Stacy this text message:
“Your boy will be safe here and I’ll protect with my life and yet respect your position as father. Your a good man Joe Stacy. I’m honored to know you. Wish it was other circumstances but I truly have been impressed to see how you have handled yourself as a Man. Much Respects from a Man to Man.”
A few days later, the tone changed. Rawlings highlighted one that he believed Stephanie Sloop sent using her husband’s phone:
“You asshole. You have brainwashed my son so bad i don’t know what to do. i hate you, you selfish prick. Ethans not coming back and because of this lovely law called interstate custody laws you can kiss your son goodbye.”
Rawlings then replayed a recording Nathan Sloop made with Ethan where the boy cried about not wanting to go back to his father in Virginia.
“I don’t want to go there!” Ethan cried.
Rawlings claims that on the recording the boy made an “ow” sound. Defense attorneys objected to the line of questioning, saying the detective on the stand could not know the state of mind at the time.
Rawlings pressed further, showing a recorded conversation between Nathan Sloop and his mother made at the Davis County Jail.
“Every night he was sneaking out of his bedroom, turning on the Playstation, getting into the refrigerator,” Sloop told his mother in the videotaped conversation.
Rawlings alleged Nathan Sloop insinuated that Ethan Stacy was “loaded dice,” destroying his relationship with his wife. In another recorded conversation, Sloop is heard blaming Joe Stacy and said he “sunk them like a battleship” by sending Ethan to them in Utah.
Prosecutors claim Sloop insinuated in a recorded jailhouse conversation with his mother that he didn’t want Ethan in his life.
“I just wanted to get laid more,” Sloop said on the tape.
UPDATE 2:41 p.m.: On May 6, 2010, prosecutors allege Ethan Stacy was drugged with Benadryl, locked in his bedroom inside his mother’s apartment with the doorknob removed and left there while Nathan and Stephanie went to get married.
“That was Stephanie’s idea,” Nathan said in a police interview.
Detectives questioning Nathan Sloop alleged it was because they didn’t want anyone to see the bruises on Ethan from the abuse he had suffered.
Prosecutor David Cole quickly changed to the line of questioning about what happened after Ethan’s death. Sloop’s defense attorney Richard Mauro contends the boy died of an accidental overdose of a number of over-the-counter medications.
Nathan Sloop confessed to wrapping the body in garbage bags. His body was taken to an area near Powder Mountain, where a deep hole was dug. The boy’s body and items used to bury it were put in the hole in layers.
A hammer was used to disfigure the boy, police claim.
“Stephanie was worried about his dental records,” Nathan Sloop allegedly told detectives in a transcript read aloud in court.
Detective Roderick testified that Stephanie Sloop went to a market in Eden, Utah, and purchased lighter fluid, as surveillance video was broadcast to the court. Prosecutors also showed surveillance video of her purchasing a shovel and some gloves at a hardware store.
Before the break, prosecutors brought up Nathan Sloop kicking the door at the Layton Police Department. Cole read a transcript of what Sloop allegedly said.
“I’m sorry about your door. I just wanted to tell Steph I love her,” he allegedly told police.
UPDATE 2:11 p.m.: Nathan Sloop is clean shaven, sporting a suit and tie. He is unshackled and looks around the courtroom at times.
He takes notes on a legal pad, showing little emotion even as graphic photographs and video are shown to the judge. His lawyers have been intently listening to the testimony as they prepare for a cross-examination.
Detective Roderick remains on the witness stand.
The officer testified that Ethan Stacy had been scalded in water, burning 17.5 percent of his body. He had second and third degree burns to his buttocks and lower extremities. The boy also suffered from dehydration.
A photograph is shown to the judge of Ethan at the state medical examiner’s office of the burns to the boy’s legs and right hand.
Nathan Sloop told police he was not in the room when Ethan was scalded, but heard a scream.
“The skin’s just coming off. I’m trying not to panic. Stephanie’s panicking, she’s freaking out,” Sloop told detectives in the recording.
Detective Roderick says Stephanie Sloop made mention of Ethan being burned during officers’ early interviews with her.
Deputy Davis County Attorney David Cole showed the detective a transcript of another police interview where Sloop says his wife came home to find the boy “scalded with socks on. That was true.”
“That happened when I had him in the tub,” the detective said, reading from the interview transcript.
Cole played a police interview with Sloop, where he revealed the boy was screaming and crying. Nathan admitted to being mad at the boy.
“Ethan said it was too hot. I said it’s not too hot,” Sloop said. “I pushed him in and pushed him down.”
Sloop said the boy was crying but he didn’t stop “crying since the day he came home.”
“I was actually more angry with Steph,” Sloop said.
Prosecutors pointed out the boy should have gone to the emergency room. Instead, they claim, Sloop left the boy at home and went off to marry Stephanie.
“I was afraid I was going to go to prison,” Sloop cried on a police interview tape. “I don’t want to go to prison! I don’t want to go to prison!”
Prosecutors showed a statement by a woman who said Stephanie Sloop told her Ethan had been burned, but she was afraid to take him to a doctor because she feared she would lose all rights to her son.
Playing a recorded interview with police, Nathan Sloop said of his son’s death: “We chose one way or the other, there’s no going back.”
UPDATE 11:50 a.m.: Detective Roderick is on the witness stand describing more abuse involving Ethan Stacy. Nathan said it was discipline.
Nathan Sloop told detectives that Stephanie told her husband to “whoop his ass and make a man out of him.” Police claimed they found blood on the wall of Ethan’s bedroom from where he had been forced to stand in a corner.
The testimony is both clinically dry and extremely graphic. In the courtroom, people can be heard audibly crying.
The court was shown a photograph of Nathan and Ethan sitting on a couch playing video games. The boy’s face is swollen and bruised.
“Tell me how you would discipline Ethan,” a detective asked Sloop in a police interview played to the court.
He had Sloop demonstrate how he would discipline the boy. A loud series of slaps could be heard in the recording.
Nathan Sloop rambles, describing how he was abused as a child, but says that at times “Stephanie did handle it numerous times.”
Prosecutors played clips of numerous police interviews where Nathan described the abuse. One described Ethan having “skin falling off.”
Photographs of Ethan with a red face were shown. Nathan Sloop looked at the pictures and then looked away.
“Monster,” a woman in the courtroom whispered.
Prosecutors then played a tape recording Nathan had made with Ethan, on April 29.
“Tell your daddy how much you don’t like him,” Nathan tells the boy.
“I don’t like you,” Ethan said on the tape.
“Do you want to go back there?”
“No. Because… ”
“What does he do?”
“He tells me that he got me in trouble…”
“Do you feel safe there? Or not? What did he do?”
“He just spanks me all day.”
Later on the tape, Ethan is asked if he wants to live with his mother in Utah, or his father in Virginia.
“Who do you want to be with? Your mom or your dad?” Nathan asks.
“My mom,” Ethan says.
“Speak into this,” Nathan said, referring to the microphone. “Who do you want to be with?”
“My mom,” Ethan replies.
“Because my dad’s mean to me. He spanks me all day.”
“Is he mean to you?”
“Are you making this up? Or are you being honest?”
“I’m making this up,” Ethan said.
“Are you telling the truth?”
“I want to be with my mom.”
“Is that the truth?”
“Yeah,” the boy says, beginning to cry.
Prosecutors also claimed that the boy’s genitals were abused. Deputy Davis County Attorney David Cole played a police interview with Nathan Sloop where he described what happened after the boy once smeared poop on him.
“She said, ‘maybe you should put some in his mouth,’ ” Nathan Sloop said. “I just put a little bit in and just kind of smeared it and he spit at me.”
Nathan claimed he was also bit by Ethan. He said Stephanie went over the edge.
“She was slapping the s— out of him and so forth. She grabbed some s— and shoved it in his f—ing mouth,” he said.
In other police interviews played in court, Nathan said Stephanie was a participant in the abuse.
ORIGINAL POST –
FARMINGTON — Defense attorneys for a man accused of killing 4-year-old Ethan Stacy said Wednesday the boy did not die as a result of child abuse, but an unintentional overdose of over-the-counter medications.
Nathan Sloop’s attorney made the bombshell revelation at the start of a three-day preliminary hearing here in 2nd District Court.
“There will be physical evidence we will ask you to pay attention to. The final cause of death was Ethan Stacy was overmedicated on over-the-counter medications,” Richard Mauro told the judge, rattling off a list of medications the boy was allegedly given.
“He had burns, bruising, but it was not torture or repeated beatings,” the attorney said. “It was mixed drug toxicity. What they were giving Ethan Stacy was over-the-counter meds because they believed his system required Benadryl, Children’s Tylenol and a decongestant.
They didn’t know it was harming him and dehydrating him and he died in his sleep when they found him the next morning.”
Nathan Sloop was also on a number of medications, defense attorneys said, taking 4,196 pills over the course of 11 months leading up to the boy’s death.
Sloop and his wife, Stephanie, are accused of killing her son, Ethan Stacy, in May 2010 and dumping his body near Powder Mountain. Prosecutors have charged the couple with aggravated murder, obstruction of justice and desecration of a corpse.
The couple called 911 on May 10, 2010, claiming Ethan was missing.
“I just woke up in the middle of the night and my 4-year-old child is missing,” Stephanie Sloop said calmly in the 911 call played in court.
As the call continued, Sloop began crying and tried to tell the dispatcher about the custody dispute with Ethan’s father, until the dispatcher cut her off to ask what the boy was wearing.
After reporting the boy missing, a Layton police detective testified that under questioning, Stephanie Sloop revealed there was a “body” and eventually offered up where Ethan was.
Under questioning, police claimed Nathan Sloop would only reveal the location of Ethan’s body if he heard it from Stephanie herself.
“I’ll tell you exactly where the f—in’ body is,” Sloop allegedly said, according to a police transcript of their interview.
Prosecutors played a videotape shot by Layton police of Nathan Sloop leading officers to Ethan’s body.
Prosecutors say the boy’s body had been disfigured and set on fire in an effort to prevent identification. Dog food had been scattered over the gravesite. Photographs shown to the judge included a bloody curtain, a hammer with the handle broken off and covered in blood, a used bottle of lighter fluid, ammonia, duct tape, Ethan Stacy’s sweatshirt.
Ethan’s body was wrapped in eight black plastic garbage bags. As photographs and video of it being removed from the shallow grave were broadcast in court, people could be heard audibly sobbing.
Layton Police Sgt. Jeff Roderick testified that Ethan’s face had been smashed with a hammer and his body burned.
Sloop sat quietly in court, taking notes and showing little emotion.
The court was shown text messages and video of Ethan taken from the couple’s cell phones.
“I’m having fun with Nathan. He’s not scary anymore,” Ethan told the camera.
“Yeah! You’re such a good boy!” Nathan said back.
Roderick testified that Ethan’s face had redness on his cheek, his nose and under his lips. They played a police interrogation of Sloop, where he said the abuse began the day the boy arrived in Utah to stay with his mother.
The Davis County Attorney has filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty if Sloop is convicted. The preliminary hearing is where the judge will determine if there is enough evidence to make Sloop stand trial in the murder of Ethan Stacy.
More on this story on FOX 13 News and fox13now.com throughout the day.