CORONAVIRUS UTAH

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

Apr 30, 2021, 11:20 PM | Updated: May 3, 2021, 9:54 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – 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

Top Stories

Coronavirus Utah

AURORA, CO - DECEMBER 15: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center investigat...
Jed Boal, KSL TV

Pfizer booster shot is now approved for children 5-11, here’s what a doctor advises

The CDC now recommends Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots for children ages five to 11. But, a leading pediatric epidemiologist suggests some parents may want to wait based on their summer plans.
7 days ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV

COVID-19 cases on the rise in Utah, State Department of Health says

The Utah Department of Health and Human Services are seeing an increase of COVID-19 cases across the state as well as an increase in hospitalizations.
8 days ago
CDC Covid Community Map Levels as of May 18th, 2022. (Credit: CDC)...
Michael Houck, KSL TV

Summit County is considered ‘medium risk’ for COVID-19 by the CDC

The CDC list Summit County as the only "yellow" risk county in Utah for COVID-19, breaking Utah's all green risk status. 
9 days ago
The lawn of Timpanogos Regional Hospital was adorned with flags to honor the lives lost to COVID-19...
Ashley Moser, KSL TV

Hospital ceremony honors survivors, healthcare heroes as U.S. hits one million COVID-19 deaths

The lawn of Timpanogos Regional Hospital was adorned with flags to honor the lives lost to COVID-19, those who survived it, and the caregivers and healthcare workers who cared for the sick.
10 days ago
...
Ladd Egan, KSL TV

Mixed results for food drive while demand for assistance stays high

After a two-year break because of the pandemic, the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive returned on Saturday with mixed results.
11 days ago
The Conference Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City for a yo...
Lauren Steinbrecher, KSL TV

Young adults pack Conference Center, overflow seating with largest crowds since pandemic

Thousands gathered at the Conference Center and overflow seating in Temple Square for a big event that hasn’t taken place with this many people in-person, since before the start of the pandemic.
11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Make Money Online Easily...

4 Ways that You Can Make Money Online Easily in Just a Few Clicks

Here are 4 ways that you can make money online easily in no time at all! Some are as simple as just a few clicks away.
tips to winterize your home...
Bonneville Digital SLC

Tips to Winterize Your Home | The Top 5 Ways You Can Prepare for the Cold Utah Winter Ahead

Before the snow hits, here are the top 5 tips to winterize your home to prepare for the cold Utah winter this year.
Utah Mother Advocates For Son After His Alleged Killer Was Released On Bail