A Grantsville man who was 16 when he shot and killed his mother and three of his siblings in their home planned to kill his whole family and burn his house down to get a "clean slate" and a "new opportunity in life," prosecutors said.

Colin Jeffery "CJ" Haynie, who turned 20 last week, was sentenced to at least 100 years in prison Wednesday. He will serve four consecutive sentences of 25 years to life for each of the murders. He will also serve a concurrent sentence of 25 years to life for the attempted murder of his father, Colin Haynie.

Prosecuting attorney Scott Broadhead said Haynie was angry at his father because of arguments they'd had, and had "good" and "healthy" relationships with his siblings.

"I thought if I killed my dad, everyone would turn against me, so I made a selfish decision to kill them all," Haynie said in a pre-sentence investigation report.

While the crimes shocked the community, some asked the judge not to lock Haynie up and throw away the key.

"(Haynie) is not a lost cause. He is not incorrigible," Haynie's attorney Richard A. Van Wagoner said in a letter submitted to the court Monday in preparation for Wednesday's sentencing.

Haynie faced a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison for each of the five counts he was convicted. The issue facing the judge was whether to order those sentences to run consecutively or concurrently.

Third District Judge Teresa Welch said that choosing to run the first four charges consecutively was "appropriate given the aggravated circumstances," including the severity of the crime, number of victims and "methodic nature" of the act.

Welch said the choice to run the attempted murder charge concurrently was appropriate based on "mitigating circumstances," including Haynie's young age and the progress he's shown during his stay in a juvenile detention center.

On Jan. 17, 2020, Haynie shot and killed his mother and three of his siblings over a five-hour period as each returned to their home. When his father arrived home, he too was shot in the leg but was able to wrestle the gun away from his son.

Haynie's mother, Consuelo Alejandra Haynie, 52; sisters Alexis Haynie, 15, and Milan Haynie, 12; and brother Matthew Haynie, 14, were all murdered. He was charged as an adult and pleaded guilty on July 19, 2022, to four counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted aggravated murder.

Despite being charged as an adult, Haynie has been housed for the past 3½ years at the Salt Lake Valley Youth Center. Van Wagoner says being there has greatly benefited his client's development.

Colin Jeffery “CJ” Haynie was 16 when he shot and killed his mother and three of his siblings. Haynie, now 20, will be sentenced Wednesday.
Colin Jeffery “CJ” Haynie was 16 when he shot and killed his mother and three of his siblings. Haynie, now 20, will be sentenced Wednesday. | Family photo

"As a young teen with impoverished social skills and abilities, a speech impediment, an anxiety disorder, significantly delayed education, and a life of relative isolation, (Haynie) responded to and embraced (Utah's Juvenile Justice and Youth Services) structure, resources and programs administered by a committed and caring staff in the most positive ways," the attorney's letter states. "(Haynie) has become a prime example of the neurological development that can come during formative years, particularly in the areas of self-reflection, insight, empathy, personal responsibility, coping abilities, education and social skills."

Prior to the killings, Haynie had no criminal record and did not do drugs. But he suffered from various issues, "including severe anxiety," according to court documents. He later described to a therapist evaluating him after his arrest "his increasing social isolation in the months before January 2020, along with increasing arguments and unfulfilled expectations with his father, which led to further isolation.

"(Haynie) did not have a plan but felt the only option to address his situation was to shoot his father and the rest of his family; he now sees there of course were many options for help," Van Wagoner's letter continues. "(Haynie) knows his explanation is wholly inadequate because there is no conceivable excuse or justification for what he did."

But since his incarceration, he has earned his high school diploma, is taking college courses, and has had no disciplinary action while in detention, the letter states.

"(Haynie), who was socially, emotionally, academically and otherwise mentally younger than his biological age when he committed these terrible crimes, lacked maturity and failed to comprehend the host of options available to address his circumstances at 16 years old," his attorney wrote. "Indeed, (Haynie's) character has already progressed significantly as he has transitioned from a teenager to a young man who is still growing, learning and maturing."

Van Wagoner also on Monday submitted several other letters to the court written by neighbors and associates who know the Haynie family.

One man, whom Haynie did yard work for, says Haynie confided to him that he suffered from "severe anxiety," but did not tell his father.

"Jeffery was a bit backward in social skills but had good work ethics and learned well. He learned well and became better over time. He listened to advice and followed it. I hope he will have a chance later in life maybe to live a normal life with what has happened," the man wrote.

Another neighbor, who was close to the Haynie family, wrote a letter to the judge describing Haynie as "socially awkward," but said he always seemed to want to do the right thing.

"However, from my perspective, Jeffery was not doing well, he didn't have the social/emotional tools to excel in the environment he'd been placed in. It didn't seem like he'd found his niche, and teenagers can be really, really mean. Jeffery was a perfect target for bullying and teasing, and it didn't look like he'd found a group of kids that he could flourish within. I was worried about him," the neighbor wrote. "Add in a strict environment at home and additional conflict with the family, and Jeffery was descending into a darker and darker place. The actions Jeffery took on Jan. 17, 2020, are certainly his own and are not excused by any amount of bullying and teasing at school, or conflict at home, but it does give some context on where he was and where he went.

"Although hard to believe considering the circumstances, Jeffery is a good kid," he stated. "I ask for some leniency for this young man."

During the ceremony in which Haynie received his high school diploma, he thanked all his teachers and the staff at Salt Lake Valley Youth Center.

"I needed to grow up and become a better person in this life," he said in a transcript of his comments. "And once again, my eternal gratitude to all the staff that works here or has since worked here for you. You've given me something I've always wanted, which is friends."