Court appoints attorney in W.V. double slaying

Date: 2003-02-28

Court appoints attorney in W.V. double slaying

Feb 28, 2003
Pat Reavy
Deseret News
A man accused of killing his wife and 4-year-old daughter in their West Valley house made his first appearance in court Friday morning.

Brian Christopher Sullivan, 38, is charged with two counts of aggravated homicide, both capital offenses. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Wearing a tan jumpsuit from the jail, Sullivan avoided eye contact with people sitting in the audience of Judge Frank C. Noel's courtroom. The only time he spoke was when Noel asked, "Are you Brian Christopher Sullivan?" and if he wanted the court to appoint an attorney for him. Sullivan replied "yes" to both questions.

Noel said he would give Sullivan a court-appointed attorney and then scheduled another court appearance for March 10. Sullivan, wearing both hand and leg shackles, looked only at the floor as he was then led out of the courtroom.

Sullivan is accused of stabbing his wife LaRae Marara Sullivan and their daughter, Kehaulani Niu Sullivan, to death at their house near 3300 South and 6700 West. Police discovered both bodies Feb. 21 in the same bed covered with blankets. Their bodies had been cleaned and their bloody clothes put in another room. Investigators believed the two had been dead for up to two days, according to court documents.

Friends and family members sat quietly inside the courtroom as they watched the proceedings. But Elaine Beatty, LaRae Sullivan's cousin, told reporters outside the courtroom that it wasn't easy.

"I wanted to yell out (to Brian Sullivan) 'Why? How come?' " she said. "It is just disgusting what the family is going through."

Although Beatty said the family has been in what she called the "forgiving stage," they still "want to see justice served," she said.

Prosecutors have not released a possible motive for the crime. Outside the courtroom, Beatty addressed rumors that Sullivan killed his wife and daughter because God told him to do it.

"God does not instruct people to kill. I just don't see it being a religious thing," Beatty said,

Prosecutors do not believe any credible religion condones the killing of innocent people, Salt Lake Deputy District Attorney Kent Morgan said. Whether that's something Sullivan believes is something that will be examined in court, he said.

Beatty described Brian Sullivan as having a short temper. There are no court records of domestic violence involving Sullivan. However, family members contend that several years ago LaRae Sullivan's brother shot Brian Sullivan after the two argued over the way Sullivan treated his wife.

Family members have also said that Sullivan had a substance abuse problem and has been unemployed for four years. Beatty described him as a "know-it-all" type of person who did not get along well with other family members.

LaRae Sullivan, who will be buried in Hawaii Saturday, was a private person who didn't deserve any of this, Beatty said.

"She's a perfect angel. I've never met a finer woman. Why did it happen to her?" Beatty questioned out loud while fighting back tears. "She always wanted to do her best. She didn't deserve this."

E-MAIL: preavy@desnews.com

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