A Grantsville man who fatally shot his mother and three young siblings and attempted to kill his father more than three years ago in what prosecutors described as a calculated hour-long assault in what prosecutors described as a calculated hour-long assault will likely live the rest of his life spend in prison, a judge ruled on Wednesday.
Colin Jeffery “CJ” Haynie, then 16, was charged in the January 2020 deaths of his mother, Alejandra Haynie, and three siblings, ages 15, 14, and 12. In July 2022, he pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted aggravated murder – all first-degree offenses, each of which carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Third Circuit Judge Teresa Welch on Wednesday sentenced Haynie, now 20, to 25 years to life in prison for each count of murder. Each of these sets will run in sequence, she decided. Welch also sentenced Haynie to 25 years to life in prison for attempted murder while running for office.
Haynie, sitting next to his attorneys in the courtroom, stared ahead and didn’t grimace as Welch delivered Haynie’s verdict. Although he faces a minimum of 100 years in prison, the Paroles and Parole Board will determine exactly how long he will remain in custody and whether his sentence will begin in a juvenile detention center where Haynie was being held at the time the case was ruled, or in a correctional facility for adults.
Defense attorney Richard Van Waggoner had asked that Haynie be given concurrent sentences to give him a chance of one day being released from prison. He said that Haynie initially blamed his father for the crimes and was “immature, socially awkward and internalized,” but he has since taken responsibility and made an “almost miraculous transformation” to better understand his feelings and to cope with, and have not agreed to threat upon release.
Noting that Haynie had earned his high school diploma while incarcerated, he played a 15-minute video of the graduation ceremony to the court.
“The differences between when I met [Haynie] “3.5 years ago and now they’re so big, so dramatic, so different,” said Van Waggoner, “I have a hard time even recognizing him as the 16-year-old boy I first met.”
Tooele District Attorney Scott Broadhead said it was confusing that anyone could conclude Haynie was not, or will not be, a threat. Broadhead said Haynie hatched a plan to systematically kill every member of his family, burn down their house, and escape with a “clean slate.” Ultimately, he killed four people in about five hours.
Broadhead said that Haynie’s only explanation for the murders was that Haynie was angry with his father for having conflicts about going to school and church, or not being allowed to hang out with friends or play video games – arguments that teenagers and parents ” constantly”. ”
“[The killings] cannot be explained by fear and immaturity,” Broadhead said. “Almost every 16-year-old in the history of this world has chosen not to kill their parents.”
He added that Haynie explained that he killed his mother and siblings because he feared his family would turn against him if he only killed his father, Colin Haynie.
On January 17, 2020, Haynie stayed away from school, Broadhead said. He prepared two guns and distributed ammunition throughout the house. Then he waited.
His mother and 12-year-old sister Milan Haynie, referred to as “Maylan” in court documents, were his first victims and were shot dead when they returned home from school after 1 p.m. Broadhead said the defendant shot his youngest sister at point blank range. When 15-year-old Alexis Haynie returned home around 3pm, he followed her and fired five shots in her head and chest.
Two neighbors stopped by while Haynie waited for his remaining family members to return home, including his sisters’ piano teacher, who became concerned when they didn’t show up for class that day. Both said Haynie appeared normal, Broadhead said.
At around 5:15 p.m., 14-year-old Matthew Haynie, referred to as “Mathew” in court documents, returned home from a birthday party. Broadhead said the defendant and Matthew were particularly close. The defendant shot the 14-year-old in the head at close range.
Haynie’s father returned home to a dark house about an hour later. Broadhead said he felt his family wasn’t allowed to be home. He then turned and saw Haynie standing in the dark, pointing a gun, and the older man “charged” at him. Haynie fired several shots, but only one hit his father – in the leg.
The two fought for about an hour while Colin Haynie attempted to defuse the situation and take the gun away from his son. Haynie hit his father in the head with the gun and blood ran down his face, Broadhead said.
Eventually, a neighbor came to the house to return some keys and found the two were “almost knotted together,” Broadhead said. She thought Colin Haynie was wearing a mask, but soon found his face was covered in blood. They all agreed to go to the hospital, where Colin Haynie was treated and his son was taken into police custody.
Dead “for what?”
Van Waggoner, the defense attorney, told the court on Wednesday that he was still shocked that the defendant refused to speak to the police during the first questioning without a lawyer present. He said most clients don’t know how to ask a lawyer. He later learned that this advice came from Haynie’s father and was passed on to the boy on the way to the hospital.
“Under these terrible circumstances,” said Van Waggoner, “he protected his son.”
Colin Haynie attended Wednesday’s hearing but declined to comment, Broadhead said.
However, Haynie’s older brother Danny issued a statement. He told the court that the killings had traumatized him and that he had played on an innate fear of having one’s entire family taken away without notice or reason.
But he said “the most frustrating thing about all of this” was that it could have been prevented. He recalled a conversation with his mother around Thanksgiving, in which she mentioned that Colin Jeffrey Haynie was going through a difficult transition from home school to public school and had said some “dark things” that made her think about him to be treated mentally.
Danny Haynie said the boy’s father didn’t allow it because he was concerned Haynie might say something that would get him into trouble.
“The irony now is that Jeffrey is still going to jail and the rest of my family is dead,” he said, “and for what?”
Welch said on Wednesday that consecutive sentences for the murders were appropriate given the seriousness of the crimes and the number of victims, but added that she took both Haynie’s age and ability to grow into account when deciding that the sentence for attempted murder should be carried out concurrently could be imposed with the others.
She said Haynie’s actions were “immensely sad” because he took the lives of his family members in such a “tragic and horrific way.” Welch noted that Haynie also deprived himself of living with them, the people who “loved you most” and who would have liked to see him graduate from high school and live a “happy and fulfilling life.”
“Lord. “Haynie, I wish you the best of luck in the future,” she said, “and I hope you take advantage of all the opportunities that prison gives you, because I think that’s what your family would have wanted.” Also. “