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Farmington » A three-day preliminary hearing for Nathan Sloop, accused of killing his young stepson in 2010, is set to begin next week.

The 34-year-old Sloop, who is charged in 2nd District Court with aggravated murder in connection with the death of 4-year-old Ethan Stacy, appeared in court Monday for an evidentiary hearing, but no issues regarding evidence were raised by attorneys.

The preliminary hearing — to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial — will begin as scheduled on March 27.

In December, the Davis County Attorney's Office filed formal notice that it would seek the death penalty against Sloop.

His wife, Stephanie Sloop, 30 — also charged with aggravated murder, but not facing the possibility of the death penalty — scheduled to appear in court next on April 12.

Charging documents allege the Layton couple engaged in multiple acts of "severe abuse" between April 29 and May 8 in 2010, which led to Ethan's death, including "beatings, burning, drugging, isolating, malnourishing, leaving the child alone and unattended while suffering, and refusing to seek vital life-sustaining medical attention."

According to police probable-cause statements, Stephanie Sloop said she knew Ethan needed medical attention after an initial May 5 disciplinary beating by Nathan Sloop, but that she was afraid Sloop would harm her, too, if she acted.

She told police that Ethan became "extremely ill," would not eat and was given Benadryl to keep him quiet. She also told police that on May 7, Nathan Sloop told her Ethan had burned himself in the bathtub on his feet, legs and buttocks by turning up the hot water when Nathan Sloop left the bathroom.

The couple — who said they left the injured boy in a locked bedroom while they got married on May 6 — reported Ethan missing to police on Mother's Day, May 10, after discovering the boy was dead.

But after a 12-hour search, police say the couple confessed to burying the boy near Powder Mountain Ski Resort in Weber County.

Nathan Sloop, who led officers to the body on May 11, told police he used a hammer to disfigure the boy's face and teeth in an effort to hinder identification.

Dog food was sprinkled on the boy's unmarked grave.

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