FARMINGTON, Utah — The man accused of brutally killing a 25-year-old woman on their first date last year in Layton has pleaded guilty to murder charges.
Ethan Hunsaker, 25, entered that plea Tuesday morning during a virtual hearing at the Farmington Courthouse in Davis County.
Hunsaker is accused of choking and stabbing Ashlyn Black to death after the two met, went on a date and returned to Hunsaker’s Layton home on May 24, 2020.
Black’s family is said to be relieved over the guilty plea.
“There is a strong sense of relief that the case is finally progressing again. It’s been in limbo for over a year now, without clear direction where it was going to go,” said Joshua Egan, the attorney for Black’s family. “It is a very emotional case for the family.”
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Hunsaker also pleaded mentally ill, but Davis County prosecutors told KSL-TV that doesn’t change the fact that he still could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
“It holds the defendant accountable for the crime. It doesn’t exonerate them or excuse their conduct at all,” said prosecutor Brandon Poll. “It holds defendants accountable by giving them an appropriate sentence, but if there is specialized treatment that is needed because of their mental illness, it addresses that as well.”
Black and Hunsaker met on Tinder. That night, they went to a bar and then to his home. It was their first date.
Around 3 a.m., Hunsaker called Layton Police saying he had killed someone.
Since day one, prosecutors said they had no plans for a plea deal.
“We determined that a plea offer would not be appropriate and the defendant should plead guilty to murder, or we should take the case to trial,” said prosecutor Jason Nelson.
“The family is relieved that the state took the position it did, not reduce the charge to something less,” said Egan.
Hunsaker’s next hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 27, where the judge will determine if he is mentally ill.
A sentencing date will then be scheduled.