CORONAVIRUS

Utah Mother Advocates For Son After His Alleged Killer Was Released On Bail

Apr 30, 2021, 11:20 PM | Updated: Jul 11, 2023, 10:17 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Dozens of victims have been waiting for justice to be served, but like most other things, the coronavirus pandemic put that on hold. For one Utah mother whose son was brutally stabbed to death in 2019, she believes it opened a loophole for the suspect.

“He would do anything for anyone,” said Kay Lynn Stafford of her son.

Stafford described her son, Cory Haney, as a friend to everyone, but fears that generosity led to his death.

“Unfortunately it was, it definitely was,” said Stafford.

In March 2019, Stafford got a call that changed her life.

“That just started our nightmare saying that Cory was killed,” she said.

Detectives quickly zeroed in on Haney’s roommate and long-time friend Jesse Joel Bruce, who allegedly confessed to the killing in a 911 call, later claiming it was self-defense.

“Cory had been stabbed to death brutally,” said Stafford.

The trial was initially set for early 2020, but with the pandemic, everything was put on hold, except for Bruce’s request to lower his bond.

The request had been passed on twice before, however, during a June 2020 scheduling conference and hearing for a bond reduction motion, the judge had a change of heart.

“The allegations in the probable cause statement appear pretty sound,” said Judge Richard McKelvie. “Balancing that is the fact that, as we sit here right now, we have no idea, quite frankly, when we’ll be able to try this case. Our numbers in terms of the coronavirus in the last week or so have not been going in the right direction. We are nowhere near close to have any meaningful proceeding here. It’s a very difficult balance to try to find a way to assuage the concerns of the state and the family of the victim against the defendant’s right for a speedy trial.”

Citing Bruce’s right to a speedy trial, the judge agreed to lower the $1 million bond.

“From the current set to $250,000,” he said.

Bruce posted bail in late July 2020.

The judge stipulated that Bruce wear an ankle monitor and have no contact with victims or witnesses, but declined the request to place him under house arrest.

“I couldn’t believe that he would even be allowed to get out on bail with the brutal murder and the brutal things he had done to my son,” said Stafford. “Cory didn’t get a time out, he didn’t have a chance to just take a break, so why does the criminal get to take a break?”

Bruce is currently under supervision of Salt Lake County’s Criminal Justice Services.

In an email statement to KSL-TV, Austin Mort, trial attorney for the Salt Lake Legal Defender Association, said in part of his client, “Jesse is presumed innocent,” and is an example of why judges need to look beyond the allegations when deciding to release someone before their trial:  

“Jesse sat in jail for sixteen months waiting for his chance to go to court and contest this allegation. After two delays of his trial date — one caused by the State being unprepared for the original trial date in the first week of March 2020, the other by COVID bringing the court system to a grinding halt last summer — Judge McKelvie modified the bail amount to $250,000, which Jesse was able to post through a bail-bondsman. Since then, Jesse has had his every move tracked by an ankle monitor which was installed and maintained entirely at his own expense. The court-approved monitoring company files regular updates with the court about Jesse’s compliance, and has yet to report even the slightest violation. Judge McKelvie set additional clear conditions of Jesse’s release, which are designed to ensure his continued appearance in court, the safety of the community, and the integrity of the court process, and Jesse has abided by every single one of them. Jesse is presumed innocent, and has proven to be an example of why it is necessary in every case for the courts to look beyond the nature of the allegations when deciding whether someone should sit in jail while awaiting trial.” 

According to Geoff Fatah, public information officer for The Utah Court system, more than 288 criminal jury trials were put on hold during the pandemic.

“I had a lot of faith in that justice system,” said Stafford.

Stafford said that faith was diminishing, especially after learning priority in scheduling jury trials is given to cases where the suspect is still in jail.

“(The defense) don’t care how far out it is because he is free and walking,” she said. “The timing for the trail provided a loophole for him.”

Stafford said she can only start healing when jury trials resume.

“There will always be a hole in my heart,” she said. “It won’t heal.”

Bruce’s trial has been set for October.

In the meantime, Haney’s parents have filed a civil lawsuit for $2 million, citing it as a desperate effort to hold him accountable.

KSL 5 TV Live

Coronavirus

A sign reminding Copper Hills High School students and staff to keep their hands clean during the c...

Lindsay Aerts

Utah school districts working to prioritize what stays when COVID relief money runs dry

Utah's school districts are working to figure out how they will continue to pay for programs propped up by COVID-19 relief funds.

3 days ago

FILE: Former Utah Jazz John Stockton reacts during a 76-70 Wichita State win over the Gonzaga Bulld...

Michael Houck

Former Utah Jazz star John Stockton sues Washington medical director about COVID misinformation policy

Former Utah Jazz superstar John Stockton has filed a federal lawsuit against Washington officials on First Amendment violations, arguing the state's policy of COVID-19 misinformation is unconstitutional.

2 months ago

Deer Creek Reservoir...

Alex Cabrero

State parks expecting another record visitation year, hiring more workers

It didn't matter how cold or snowy it was at Deer Creek State Park Friday afternoon. Nothing was going to stop Leonard Sawyer from taking his boat out to do a little fishing.

3 months ago

FILE —  Respiratory virus illness activity continues to increase across the US.
(Joe Burbank/Orl...

Emma Benson

‘Not viruses to mess around with’: Experts urge caution during ongoing ‘tripledemic’

Experts say though not as severe as last year, this winter we're seeing another "tripledemic" – rising cases of COVID-19, flu and RSV in Utah.

4 months ago

FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Emma Benson

‘The ICUs are full:’ Keep yourself and others healthy this holiday

It's time for holiday gatherings, but with more people around us comes a greater risk of getting sick.

5 months ago

Julianna Preece goes through the mountain of medical documents she's acquired for her health condit...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Herriman couple is suing CVS, says 5x Covid vaccine dose mistake caused health problems

A couple is suing a Utah CVS vaccination clinic, saying a nurse’s mistake led to the wife receiving five times the normal COVID-19 vaccine dose and caused serious health issues she’s still dealing with today.

6 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Utah Mother Advocates For Son After His Alleged Killer Was Released On Bail