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Man in Tinder date murder sentenced to prison, but mental health treatment ordered first

By Mark Shenefelt - | Feb 23, 2022

Photo supplied, Davis County Jail

Ethan Hunsaker

FARMINGTON — Ethan Hunsaker has been committed to the Utah State Hospital for mental health treatment prior to him serving 15 years to life in prison for the first-date murder of Ashlyn Black.

Second District Judge David Connors on Tuesday found that Hunsaker “poses an immediate physical danger to himself or others … if placed in a correctional or probation setting.”

Hunsaker, 26, pleaded guilty but mentally ill last July to the May 24, 2020, strangulation and stabbing of Black. The two had met on a dating app. Hunsaker called 911, saying he had killed someone.

After the guilty plea, Connors ordered an assessment of Hunsaker’s mental health prior to sentencing. In a Dec. 2 court filing, a Utah Department of Human Services licensed clinical social worker said she determined that Hunsaker had major depressive disorder with psychotic features, plus generalized anxiety disorder.

For sentencing, Connors had three options: send Hunsaker straight to prison; commit him to the State Hospital for 18 months before transfer to prison; or send him to the State Hospital with no time limit for treatment.

Photo supplied, Layton City Police Department

Ashlyn Black is pictured in a photo released by her family through the Layton City Police Department. Black was found dead in a Layton home early Sunday morning, May 24, 2020, after police received a call from a man who said he had just killed someone.

The judge set the 18-month threshold, saying Hunsaker will be at the State Hospital until his condition stabilizes or until the 18 months elapse, whichever comes first. Connors imposed a sentence of 15 years to life in prison for Hunsaker.

Nineteen of Black’s relatives attended the sentencing. Family friend and attorney Joshua Egan, who helped the family through the criminal case, said Wednesday the court had set a limit of five relatives to attend the sentencing in person. But Connors agreed that all 19 could attend if they wore masks, Egan said.

Three family members were allowed to speak. “They were able to look Hunsaker in the eye and tell him what they had done to them,” Egan said.

“There is a sense of relief that he has been sentenced, but their lives will never be the same, ever,” Egan said.

In a Layton police probable cause statement at the time of Hunsaker’s arrest, officers said the man said he had been having suicidal and homicidal thoughts.

Hunsaker and Black, 25, of Layton, had met via the Tinder dating app. He called 911 at 3 a.m. to report that he had just killed someone.

Police said they found Black face down in Hunsaker’s bedroom with stab wounds in her back. Hunsaker told police he choked Black, and stabbed her after he realized she was still alive, the arrest affidavit said.

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