With Death Penalty Off the Table Cache Attorney Vows to Seek ‘Harshest Penalties Possible,’ Against Alex Whipple

May 30, 2019, 6:35 PM

LOGAN, Utah — Taking the death penalty “off the table” for Alexander Whipple, in the murder of his 5 year-old niece Elizabeth (Lizzy) Shelley, was a decision that Cache County Attorney James Swink said he did not take lightly.

He told KSL TV exclusively today that he only made the decision after reaching out to Lizzy’s family.

“We reached out to the mother of Lizzy and learned that her highest priority was to get her daughter’s body back,” Swink said. “It’s such an important piece to the family, that it warranted us agreeing to negotiate a settlement in this case.”

Cache County Attorney James Swink

Cache County Attorney James Swink

Swink said Whipple’s defense attorney Shannon Demler reached out to him with the offer Wednesday. Swink points out that a strong case is what ultimately led to that option becoming available.

“State and local government have worked so hard to develop the kind of evidence that allowed us to file criminal charges that also led us to being able to file a capitol murder charge,” Swink said. “Without that capitol murder charge, finding that body in a timely manner would not have happened.”

Swink said finding the body days after Lizzy went missing turned out to be important in allowing the family to grieve how they want.

“Without the weather conditions, where they’ve been unseasonably cool, and the location of her body her body would not have been found in such a good condition,” Swink explained. “Had we waited, that body obviously would not be in the kind of condition that her family in a funeral in whatever way that they wanted to, and at this point they can move forward with a viewing and other things if they so desire.”

Alex Whipple

Staffers at Swink’s office told KSL Thursday that additional charges are possible now that Lizzy’s body has been found.

“It is not a small thing for us to consider taking that off the table,” Swink said. “With that said, we will seek the harshest penalties possible that’s available to us, which will now be life without the possibility of parole.”

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With Death Penalty Off the Table Cache Attorney Vows to Seek ‘Harshest Penalties Possible,’ Against Alex Whipple