LOGAN (ABC4 News) – The man accused of abducting and killing his own 5-year-old niece made his first in-person court appearance Monday afternoon.
Alex Whipple seemed defiant, even a bit angry while he was in the First District courtroom and he didn’t say a single word in his brief time before the judge.
The 21-year-old defendant entered in handcuffs and did not react when Judge Kevin K. Allen read the charges against him related to the murder of his sister’s daughter, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley.
“Mr. Whipple, here to inform you of the charge of criminal homicide, aggravated murder, capital felony,” Judge Allen said. “Child kidnapping, a first-degree felony. Obstructing justice, a second-degree felony. Obstructing justice, a second-degree felony. Abuse or desecration of a human body, a 3rd-degree felony.”
Whipple’s court-appointed attorney asked for and received a next court date of June 24th at 4 pm.
Afterward, Cache County Attorney James Swink told reporters why prosecutors took the death penalty off the table in exchange for Whipple telling them where to find Lizzy’s body.
“As mothers know, even better than fathers, not to have the body of your child, you just can’t cope with that. You can’t get your head around that,” Swink said.” Because we were able to work out a resolution in that one small aspect the mother has the body of her child back and is able to lay her to rest in a proper way.”
Now Swink’s objective is a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
“The State will look forward to never letting this person out of prison, the defendant, ever,” Swink said. “We look to lock him up for the rest of his life and never have him back on the streets.”
Whipple was escorted out after just two and a half minutes. The only person in the courtroom for less time was a woman named Betty Balles who brought a sign reading “Justice For Lizzy.” A bailiff told her to leave after just a few seconds.
“I lost a grandson and he was only 2 years old,” Balles told ABC4 News. “I’m a grandma and that’s why I was so emotional in there. You know, I can imagine because I’ve been through it.”
Meanwhile, Lizzy’s family was preparing for her public viewing Monday evening at Nyman Funeral Home and her funeral service Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the same location.