See PDFs of the Davis County Attorney's Office's press release on the Sloops' charges and Stephanie Sloop's and Nathanael Sloop's charging documents.
FARMINGTON -- Nathanael Sloop mouthed "I love you" to his mom, and his wife, Stephanie Sloop, choked back tears during brief hearings Friday in 2nd District Court to face aggravated murder charges in the death of 4-year-old Ethan Stacy.
The Sloops, each shackled and wearing red, jail-issued jumpsuits, were led by bailiffs into the packed courtroom for separate hearings that lasted a total of 10 minutes.
Their only comments during the hearings were to confirm their names, ages and address to a court clerk.
They each waived a formal reading of charges pending the appointment next Friday of death-penalty qualified attorneys to represent them.
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said during the hearing that the prosecution is "heading toward seeking the death penalty" against the pair.
Prosecutors have 60 days to formally decide whether to seek death, life in prison without parole or an indeterminate term of 25 years to life if the Sloops are convicted.
In addition to aggravated murder, the Sloops each face charges of second-degree felony child abuse, second-degree felony obstruction of justice and third-degree felony abuse or desecration of a body. Nathanael Sloop also has been charged with third-degree damaging a jail.
The Sloops were arrested after Ethan's body was found May 11 on the mountainside near Powder Mountain ski resort. Stephanie Sloop, 27, is Ethan's mother, and Nathanael Sloop, 32, is Ethan's stepfather.
Police and prosecutors believe the boy died after days of abuse at the couple's Layton apartment. A Florida judge had ordered the boy sent to Utah for the summer as part of a divorce settlement between Stephanie Sloop and Joe Stacy, her former husband and Ethan's father.
Before the start of Friday's hearing, Nathan Sloop's mother, Pam Sloop, who stood in a hallway outside the courtroom, declined to comment to a Standard-Examiner reporter about the charges her son and daughter-in-law are facing.
Outside the courthouse, numerous spectators gathered, clutching cardboard signs bearing phrases such as an "Eye for an Eye" and "No Doubt Take Them Out." Another sign read "Sloop," with the two O's substituted with a drawing of hangman nooses.
One of the sign carriers, Dennis Turner, of West Haven, said the Sloops deserve swift, harsh justice.
"If they are given the death penalty, it will still be too good for them," he said.
Clearfield resident Dustie Newton, who is Turner's cousin, said he attended the hearing out of respect for Joe Stacy and others related to Ethan.
"Someone's got to have a voice for this family," he said.
August Teuscher, of Clearfield, stood outside the courtroom gathering petition signatures for proposed federal legislation dubbed "Ethan's Law" that, among other things, would require parties in child custody cases to undergo psychological evaluations.
So far, she said, about 4,000 people have signed the online petition.
SLIDESHOW: Sloops' hearings
Click here to sign the "Ethan's Law" petition.