Prelim hearing underway in Ethan Stacy murder case - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Prelim hearing underway in Ethan Stacy murder case

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SALT LAKE CITY (WVVA) - A preliminary hearing is underway for a Utah man accused of brutally murdering his stepson from Tazewell County.

The three-day hearing for Nathan Sloop, 33, began Wednesday in Salt Lake City, according to a report from Utah NBC affiliate KSL. Sloop is accused of abusing, neglecting and murdering his stepson Ethan Stacy in 2010.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

The purpose of the hearing is to determine if there is evidence for a trial.

Ethan's biological father is from Tazewell County. The four-year-old was visiting Nathan Sloop and his biological mother, Stephanie Sloop, in Utah for the summer when he was killed.

Stephanie Sloop is also charged with capital murder in her son's death. Ethan had been with the Sloops for two weeks at the time of his death.

During Wednesday's hearing, the lead investigator took the stand and said Nathan Sloop beat, burned and medicated his stepson, according to the KSL report.

During a police interview played in court, Sloop said he and Stephanie put feces in Ethan's mouth after Ethan smeared it on the walls and spit on Sloop.

In the same interview, Sloop said he put Ethan in a scalding hot bath but didn't think the water was too hot. Sloop said he didn't take Ethan to the hospital for the burns because he didn't want to go to prison.

Nathan and Stephanie Sloop would lock Ethan in their apartment because they didn't want anyone to see his bruises from previous abuse, according to police reports.

Police said Ethan's mother found him dead in his bed on May 9, 2010.

Police found Ethan's body the next day buried in a plastic garbage bag in a shallow grave. Police said the boy's face had been disfigured with a hammer to prevent him from being identified.

The defense has said some of the bruises and injuries on Ethan's body weren't evidence of torture, but normal activity of a 4-year old boy -- and that the boy died in his sleep from an overdose of over-the counter medication and not from abuse.

They have said Nathan and Stephanie Sloop were giving Ethan over the counter medications because he was sick, but the lead investigator testified that there was no indication Ethan was sick at the time of his death.

The preliminary hearing is scheduled to continue through Friday.

View KSL.com's report on Wednesday's hearing

View WVVA.com's previous reports on the Ethan Stacy murder

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