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A Utah teen who “methodically” gunned down his mother and three siblings at the family’s home more than two years ago has pleaded guilty to the brutal series of killings.
Colin Jeffery Haynie, 19, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the quadruple murder of his 52-year-old mother, Alejandra Haynie and his siblings 12-year-old Maylan, 17-year-old Alexis, and 15-year-old Mathew Haynie at the family home in Grantsville, Utah in July 2020, the Tooele County District Attorney’s Office said. He also pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of his father, Colin Haynie Sr. He was 16 at the time of the massacre.
“This young man killed his mother, his three siblings, he tried to kill his father," Tooele County District Attorney Scott Broadhead told Salt Lake City television station KUTV. "These were brutal crimes. ... Neighbors and friends were shocked. It’s just been tough emotionally for many people," Broadhead told KUTV.
Haynie, who was tried as an adult due to the severity of the killings, now faces a mandatory prison sentence of 25 years to life in prison for each of the five charges he pleaded guilty to. Prosecutors dismissed five firearm charges related to the quadruple murder as part of the plea deal. Since Haynie was a teen at the time, the death penalty was ruled out in accordance with state laws.
“If he had been an adult, this could have been a death penalty case,” Broadhead told KSTU. “But because he was under the age of 18 at the time of the offense, it’s 25 years-to-life by statute.”
On Jan. 17, 2020, Haynie ambushed his parents and siblings, opening fire on them as they came home over the course of approximately four hours, according to a probable cause statement obtained by Oxygen.com.
The teen first gunned down his mother and 12-year-old sister using a pistol shortly after 1 p.m. Alejandra Haynie and Maylan Haynie sustained several gunshot wounds to their “heads, necks, and/or upper bodies,” investigators said.
He then shot and killed his 17-year-old sister Alexis and 15-year-old brother Matthew as they arrived at the house separately hours later. Both were shot in the head.
The teen’s father, Colin Haynie Sr. later arrived home and was shot in the leg by his son. Haynie told his father he planned to execute his entire family, telling Colin Haynie Sr. that “his intention was to kill everyone in the house except himself,” charging documents stated.
Following a struggle, the wounded father wrestled the gun away from his son. Colin Haynie later “peacefully surrendered” himself to police at a local hospital.
Despite his guilty plea, Haynie hasn’t yet disclosed a motive in the quadruple murder.
“He has not revealed that at this point to anybody publicly,” Broadhead said. “Hopefully, he’ll reveal the mystery so to speak at his sentencing hearing.”
Haynie’s attorney, Richard Van Wagoner, said the 19-year-old has taken responsibility for his family’s deaths.
“Jeffery was a troubled teen and lacked certain abilities and resources,” Van Wagoner told Salt Lake City television station KUTV in a statement. “He was 16 years old in January 2020, ten years from full brain development. Children are constitutionally different from adults in certain respects, children are more vulnerable than adults to negative influences, and a child’s character is not as well formed as an adult’s and the traits are less fixed.”
Van Wagoner said he’d worked with county prosecutors to secure a plea deal that would keep the 19-year-old in the juvenile justice system until at least the age of 25.
“This case is as tragic as they get, for everyone involved, the family, extended family, neighbors and friends, church congregation, students and classmates, the entire town, county, and state communities,” he added.
The incident remains one of the deadliest mass shootings in Utah since the 2007 Trolley Square mall shooting, which took the lives of six people, including the shooter. At the time, Grantsville, a small city 35 miles west of Salt Lake City, hadn’t logged a homicide for 20 years.
“Hopefully that justice was done and that there will be some measure of closure, but when you suffer these kinds of traumatic events, I don’t know the legal system delivers closure,” Broadhead said. “Hope it’s a step in that direction.”
Haynie’s sentencing has been scheduled for Dec. 7, 2022, according to prosecutors.
Broadhead declined to comment when contacted by Oxygen.com on Wednesday morning.
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