Prosecutors may seek death penalty in Layton triple homicide

Jeremy Bailey, 34, confessed to killing his wife, in-laws, and the family’s three dogs at their home in May.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Police investigate the home in Layton where police say a man killed his wife, in-laws and three family dogs on Friday, May 19, 2023.

Davis County prosecutors may seek the death penalty for a Layton man who confessed to killing his wife, in-laws and three family dogs in May.

Jeremy Bailey, 34, called 911 on May 19 to tell dispatchers that he had killed his wife, Anastasia Stevens, 36; Anastasia’s stepmother, Becky Stevens, 61; and Anastasia’s father, Donald Stevens, 73; according to a probable cause statement. Three of the family’s dogs had also been fatally shot.

Bailey was charged on May 25 with three counts of aggravated murder enhanced by domestic violence — which is a capital offense — along with two counts of discharging of a firearm with serious bodily injury and three counts of torture of a companion animal.

Court filings indicate that prosecutors are weighing whether to pursue the death penalty in Bailey’s case.

The death penalty is legal in Utah, and while it is often threatened in aggravated murder cases, it is rarely carried out. Cases more often resolve with a plea deal that takes the possibility of execution off the table.

The last execution in Utah was carried out in 2010, when Ronnie Lee Gardner was killed by firing squad for the 1984 murder of attorney Michael Burdell during Gardner’s failed escape attempt from a Salt Lake City courthouse.

According to Utah Criminal Code, prosecutors are typically required to file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty within 60 days of a defendant’s arraignment.

But Bailey has not yet been arraigned. In a court hearing Monday before 2nd District Judge Michael Direda, Bailey’s attorney Rudy Bautista called for continuances as the defense and prosecutors prepare their cases.

“I want to make sure that record is clear that Mr. Bailey understands these continuances are delaying his right to a [preliminary hearing],” Direda said.

During a preliminary hearing in a felony case, the state is required to show probable cause that a crime took place and that the defendant committed or was party to an alleged crime. If the judge decides if there is probable cause based on the state’s argument, the case is then scheduled for trial, according to the Utah State Bureau of Investigation.

Both the death penalty, as well as a potential plea deal, remain on the table. Bailey’s next court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 2.