FARMINGTON, Utah —
Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against a man accused of beating to death his 4-year-old stepson, using a hammer to disfigure his face and burying the body in the northern Utah mountains.
The notice from Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings came in a court filing Thursday against Nathanael Sloop, 33, who is accused of beating Ethan Stacy for days before his death in May 2010.
Prosecutors have long said they were inclined to seek the death penalty if Sloop is convicted at trial. However, they have consistently refused to state their intentions for the boy’s biological mother.
Stephanie Sloop will face a separate trial and is accused of contributing to the boy’s death or failing to stop it.
The Sloops were newlyweds when they were charged with aggravated murder, second-degree felony child abuse, second-degree felony obstruction of justice and desecration of a body. A motive hasn’t been revealed.
The boy’s biological father, Joe G. Stacy of Tazewell, Va., has said he was forced to give up Ethan during summers as part of a divorce and custody battle. The boy died 10 days after his arrival to Utah. Authorities say he was beaten and malnourished and left behind one day as Nathaniel and Stephanie Sloop went off to exchange wedding vows.
The Sloops have been held at Davis County Jail without bail.
Nathan Sloop pleaded not guilty to the charges in July. He is due back in 2nd District Court for a pretrial conference Dec. 14. His lawyer, Richard Mauro, did not return a phone message Friday from The Associated Press.
Stephanie Sloop, who has yet to be arraigned, has a separate roll call hearing set for Dec. 14. Her attorney, Mary Corporon, didn’t return a Friday call.
Stephanie Sloop filed for a marriage annulment in June 2010. She later withdrew the petition to keep details of her marriage from The Salt Lake Tribune, which won the right to inspect the court files.
A change in Utah law sealed all divorce and annulment pleadings in April, but court dockets show no renewed filings by Stephanie Sloop. Court clerks confirmed Friday the couple is still legally married.