100-year sentence for Utah teen who killed his mother and 3 siblings
Utah has been rocked by a chilling case in which a young man has been handed a minimum prison sentence of 100 years for the brutal slaying of his mother and three siblings.
Colin Jeffery "CJ" Haynie, who was a mere 16 years old when he committed the heinous acts, had hatched a plan to annihilate his entire family and set their home ablaze in a quest for a "fresh start" and a "new lease on life," as stated by the prosecution. Despite appeals for mercy from his defense lawyer and neighbors who attested to the boy being a victim of bullying and severe anxiety, the presiding judge issued maximum sentences, essentially condemning Haynie to a lifetime in prison.
KSL reported that Haynie, who celebrated his 20th birthday last week, was handed four consecutive sentences of 25 years to life for each of the four murders. In addition, he was given a concurrent sentence of 25 years to life for the attempted murder of his father, Colin Haynie.
Haynie's Courtroom Apology and Prosecutor's Statements
During his court appearance, Haynie expressed regret for his actions. "I want you to know I've learned from what I've done," he stated. He apologized to his family and the community for "the pain and suffering I have caused them," and emphasized that he wants others to know they can seek help for their anxiety.
Prosecutor Scott Broadhead depicted a young man who harbored resentment towards his father due to their disputes but maintained "good" and "healthy" relationships with his siblings. According to him, Haynie's decision to exterminate his entire family was a selfish one.
"I thought if I killed my dad, everyone would turn against me, so I made a selfish decision to kill them all," Haynie confessed, as per a pre-sentence investigation report.
The Horrific Details of the Crime
Broadhead disclosed that Haynie had shot each family member in different parts of the house to prevent them from witnessing each other's return home that day. He advocated for the most severe possible sentence, stating, "He should have no chance to hurt anyone else. If this case doesn't warrant the harshest sentence, I don't know what does."
Defense attorney Richard Van Wagoner showcased a video compilation of Haynie's high school graduation while in custody and proposed amendments to the pre-sentence report. Wagoner highlighted that Haynie had graduated high school, was enrolled in college courses, and no longer held his father accountable for the murders, accepting full responsibility instead.
"He has gained considerable insights over the past 3½ years," Van Wagoner stated. He added that Haynie didn't enter a guilty plea earlier so that he could spend more time in therapy, truly comprehend the repercussions of his actions, and prepare to "stand before your honor and honestly accept full responsibility."
Family's Response and Sentencing
During the sentencing, Judge Teresa Welch told Haynie that "this is an important day" because he needed to be cognizant of the "outpouring of grief and sadness that has been brought about based on your actions."
Haynie's father, Colin, was present at the sentencing but chose not to make a statement. Haynie's only other surviving family member, his older brother Danny, addressed the court via an audio call. He explained that his family had noticed "red flags" about a month prior to the incident that Haynie was harboring dark thoughts.
"The irony is that (Haynie) ended up in jail, and my family is dead, and for what?" Danny Haynie questioned. "I've lived every day seeing my family's faces in my dreams almost every night. ... It's traumatized me. It's messed me up more than anyone could ever imagine."
Haynie's Incarceration Life and Future Prospects
Despite the horrific nature of his crimes, some have implored the judge for mercy. "(Haynie) is not a lost cause. He is not incorrigible," Van Wagoner stated in a letter submitted to the court. He noted that Haynie's time in the Salt Lake Valley Youth Center has greatly benefited his development.
Prior to the killings, Haynie had a clean criminal record and did not indulge in drugs. However, he was grappling with various issues, "including severe anxiety," as per court documents. He later described to a therapist evaluating him after his arrest his increasing social isolation in the months before January 2020, along with escalating arguments and unmet expectations with his father, which led to further isolation.
Since his incarceration, Haynie has earned his high school diploma, is taking college courses, and has had no disciplinary action while in detention. His attorney wrote, "(Haynie's) character has already progressed significantly as he has transitioned from a teenager to a young man who is still growing, learning and maturing."
Community's Reaction and Haynie's Future
Van Wagoner also submitted several letters to the court penned by neighbors and associates who are acquainted with the Haynie family. One man, for whom Haynie did yard work, says Haynie confided in him that he suffered from "severe anxiety," but did not disclose this to his father.
Another neighbor, who was close to the Haynie family, wrote a letter to the judge describing Haynie as "socially awkward," but said he always seemed to strive to do the right thing. "Although hard to believe considering the circumstances, Jeffery is a good kid," he stated. "I ask for some leniency for this young man."
During a ceremony in which Haynie received his high school diploma, he thanked all his teachers and the staff at Salt Lake Valley Youth Center. "I needed to grow up and become a better person in this life," he said in a transcript of his comments. "And once again, my eternal gratitude to all the staff that works here or has since worked here for you. You've given me something I've always wanted, which is friends."
What it means
- Colin Jeffery "CJ" Haynie, who was 16 at the time of the crimes, was sentenced to a minimum of 100 years in prison for the murders of his mother and three siblings.
- Haynie had planned to kill his entire family and burn down their home in a bid for a "fresh start" and a "new lease on life."
- Despite pleas for leniency, the judge handed down maximum sentences, effectively ensuring Haynie will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
- Haynie expressed remorse for his actions and apologized to his family and the community.
- Haynie's father, Colin, was present at the sentencing but chose not to make a statement. Haynie's only other surviving family member, his older brother Danny, addressed the court via an audio call.
- Despite the horrific nature of his crimes, some have implored the judge for mercy. "(Haynie) is not a lost cause. He is not incorrigible," Van Wagoner stated in a letter submitted to the court.
- Since his incarceration, Haynie has earned his high school diploma, is taking college courses, and has had no disciplinary action while in detention.