FARMINGTON -- The defense attorney wants to see what the state's evidence is against Nathanael Sloop, who is charged with the murder of 4-year-old Ethan Stacy.
Judge Glen C. Dawson set March 27, 28, and 29 for a preliminary hearing, and scheduled March 18 for a hearing to discuss what exhibits will be allowed.
Sloop appeared in 2nd District Court on Tuesday, his first court appearance since the Davis County Attorney's Office filed notice last Thursday of its intent to seek the death penalty.
Richard Mauro, Sloop's attorney, said after the hearing he has always "kept open the option" to have a preliminary hearing and denied that the decision to go forward with the hearing had anything to do with the prosecution's decision to seek the death penalty.
"I don't think it made a difference," Mauro said. "We had conditionally waived the right to a preliminary hearing, and now we're exercising our right to have one."
Sloop, 34, of Layton, and his wife, Stephanie Sloop, the boy's mother, are charged with aggravated murder, second-degree felony child abuse, second-degree felony obstruction of justice and third-degree felony abuse or desecration of a body in the boy's death.
Ethan's disfigured body was found May 11, 2010, near Powder Mountain after the Sloops reported him missing. He had come from Florida to spend the summer with his mother.
Stephanie Sloop has a hearing scheduled for Friday.
After the hearing, Anissa Martinez, of Roy, read a text that she said was from Joe Stacy, Ethan's father.
She said it was a reply to a question concerning his feelings about the death penalty.
Martinez has attended every hearing for the Sloops and says she is a Facebook friend of the Stacys.
Part of the text that she read said the death penalty "is not in their opinion enough," but that the Stacys have confidence in the prosecutors and also in God.
Teresa Kendell, who is a victim advocate appointed by the Davis County attorney's office to represent the Stacys at court hearings, heard Martinez's comments. She contacted Joe Stacy by text message.
He texted Kendell and said he "sent no one to speak on his behalf," at the courthouse, Kendell said. "I don't speak to anyone" but Kendell and the prosecutors," Kendell read.
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said he does not know who Martinez is.
"It's troubling to me that somebody would represent that they are speaking on behalf of the victims," Rawlings said. "It is the goal of our office to do everything we can to minimize and avoid publicity in order to maximize the defendant's right to a fair trial."