LOGAN — Alex W. Whipple made his second formal appearance in court, as defense attorneys asked a judge to schedule a preliminary hearing. The 24-year-old Providence man is suspected of killing his niece, 5-year-old Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley, and hiding her body behind a nearby home.
Whipple appeared in 1st District Court Monday afternoon. He has been charged with aggravated murder, a capital offense; along with felony child kidnapping, rape of a child, sodomy on a child, obstructing justice, and desecration of a body, plus six other misdemeanors.
Whipple wore handcuffs and shackles, flanked by deputies behind him, as he stood beside one of his public defenders, Shannon Demler. He never spoke during the 5-minute hearing.
Judge Kevin Allen said defense attorneys had asked for a preliminary hearing, where he will determine whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to bind Whipple over for trial. He scheduled the hearing for August 13.
Whipple was arrested May 25 after Lizzy’s family called 911, reporting her missing. He had spent the night at their Logan home after staying up late, drinking and playing video games. Deputies located him, walking near Mt. Sterling. He reportedly had blood on his clothes that matched the young girl’s. Days later he agreed to tell police where her body was located, if prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty in his case.
Several weeks later, prosecutors explained that they had received additional evidence from the Utah State Crime Lab, showing that Whipple allegedly raped and sodomized the young girl before burying her body. They have not disclosed exactly where and when the sexual assaults took place.
Whipple remains in the Cache County Jail, being held without bail. He could face up to life in prison if convicted.