First, my apologies for being behind the ball on this one. It’s next to impossible to get information from Utah’s Uintah County court system online, so I ended up calling the County Attorney’s office directly today. Between the information I got there and what I found on Facebook, I have some excellent news to report!
I’ll give you a quick recap of Arianna’s story first. I originally posted about this beautiful little red-haired princess back on May 30, 2019.
Arianna was born on May 19, 2015 to Jessica Ortega-Scheurn and Aaron Stout of Vernal, Utah. When she was just two years old, her mom, Jessica, died of complications from a stroke at the unthinkably young age of 26.
Some time after Jessica’s death, Arianna’s father, Aaron, met a woman named Mckenley Yadon. The couple had a son in early 2018 and were married on December 21 of the same year.
On March 14, 2019, Mckenley Yadon-Stout called a friend and told them her stepdaughter was choking and had become unresponsive, prompting the friend to call 911. First responders arrived at the Stout home at 1536 W. 300 South in Vernal to find little Arianna “unresponsive, not breathing, and cold to the touch,” with “dark purple and black bruising in front, on top, inside and around her left ear.” According to a probable cause affidavit, “It was immediately apparent that these injuries were not consistent with the details initially provided for the medical response.”
Despite being rushed to Ashley Regional Medical Center, Arianna Rose Stout was pronounced dead on March 14, 2019, just two months shy of her fourth birthday.
Arianna’s autopsy results returned in May, revealing the medical examiner ruled her death a homicide caused by asphyxia due to smothering. The very same day, Vernal Police interviewed Mckenley, who had been home alone with Arianna and her baby brother at the time of the fatal incident in March. According to police, Arianna’s stepmother “admitted to smothering [Arianna] using a blanket on [her] bed.” Mckenley told police she had planned her stepdaughter’s murder for at least two days before carrying it out. She even demonstrated on a CPR dummy how she smothered Arianna with the little girl’s own blanket, describing her “body movements and struggle during this event as she maintained consistent force over [Arianna’s] airway.” She told investigators she “maintained the force” for four or five minutes and stopped only when Arianna’s struggles ceased.
It doesn’t get much more cold-blooded than that.
The police report states, “Mckenley advised she waited 10 to 15 minutes after [the child’s] death to contact a friend who she provided an inaccurate account of events, thus resulting in the initial 911 call.”
24-year-old Mckenley Jordan Yadon-Stout was arrested after confessing to Arianna’s murder. She was charged with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, and child abuse, a second-degree felony, and she has been held without bail at the Uintah County Jail since her arrest.
In January of this year, Mckenley was found competent to stand trial.
Court hearings in the case have been continued a number of times since last May, and of course, the pandemic only slowed things down further. However, just today, I discovered that at a scheduling conference on August 13, 2020, Mckenley Yadon entered a guilty plea to her charges.
The same day, Arianna’s grandma, Christina, posted a Facebook live video in which she said, “A weight has been lifted off of our shoulders. We’re grateful that she has finally admitted to what she has done. So just please keep us in prayers as we still go through this difficult time. We’re very grateful for all the prayers… believe me, we have felt the prayers come in on our behalf, and we’re so very grateful.”
Arianna’s dad, Aaron, also posted an emotional live video, saying, “I just heard that my daughter, my baby girl finally got justice for her. About damn time. That’s all I’ve ever wanted is my daughter to have justice. I want to say thanks to the police department, investigators, court officials, attorneys that actually played it through and did their job.
“This past year has been a living nightmare for me. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss my daughter. I just want everybody to know it has literally changed me as a person. I have consumed hate for one person and one person only, and that is my — that woman that I was married to. There is no excuse for what happened to my daughter. I want her to sit there and think about exactly what she did wrong.
“I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to cope with this, but I’ve been hanging on by a thread. Not a lot of people can break me, but when it comes to my children, I will always give them the world. It’s just a bad thing all the way around that the one person I trusted turned out to be the one person that you can’t trust. I’ve had a really hard time getting on here and expressing my emotions, but these are my emotions.
“Rest in peace, baby girl. I love you with all my heart. Daddy loves you. And just know that you are getting justice. I’d give anything to have my daughter here today. Anything. Nothing will ever change that, so I just wanted to get on here and say thank you to everybody, and all the prayers that people has been giving me to push me through. I know my daughter ain’t here right now, but she will always be in my heart, always. And nobody, doesn’t matter who you are, can ever take that away from me. That’s the kind of bond that I have as a father with my own child.”
Mckenley was scheduled to be sentenced on November 6, but the hearing was continued until December 4, 2020 at 1:00 PM. She faces up to 25 years to life without parole.
Victim impact statements from the family have been sent to the judge to assist him in making his sentencing determination prior to the hearing.
Arianna was laid to rest on March 30, 2019 in Maeser Fairview Cemetery in Vernal.
Click here for my ongoing coverage of Arianna’s story.
Sources: Uintah County Attorney’s Office, Justice for Arianna Facebook group, Facebook