Utah Death Penalty News

Started by Jeff1857, May 10, 2008, 04:36:00 PM

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Utah man to face death penalty in boy's death
Published 9:17 a.m., Friday, December 7, 2012

FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- Prosecutors in Utah will seek the death penalty against a 33-year-old man accused of murder and child abuse in the death of his wife's 4-year-old son.

The Standard Examiner reports (http://bit.ly/QMQHRs ) that Davis County prosecutors filed notice Thursday in 2nd District Court in the case against Nathanael Sloop.

Sloop and his wife, Stephanie Sloop, are being held without bail in Davis County jail on murder, child abuse, obstruction and desecration of a body charges in the death of 4-year-old Ethan Stacy.

The child's body was found in May 2010 near Powder Mountain after the Layton couple called police to report him missing.

Prosecutors haven't indicated whether they will seek the death penalty for Stephanie Sloop. She's due in court Dec. 14.

Nathaniel Sloop is due in court on Tuesday.

I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.


Photos of the scumbags Nathan and Stephanie Sloop
I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.


Utah inmate appeals death sentence to US court
Published 1:47 p.m., Saturday, December 8, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Utah prison inmate facing death in the 1988 torture slaying of a Southern Utah State College theater student is appealing to the federal courts to spare him from execution.

Michael Anthony Archuleta's attorneys cite 16 grounds for appeal in a document filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.

Archuleta won a reprieve just days before facing a firing squad in April.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/VUXZBU ) the 182-page petition claims Archuleta may meet Utah's criteria for mental retardation, that his sentence is unconstitutional, that his defense was deficient, and that he didn't get a fair trial.

The 50-year-old Archuleta has lost five state court appeals.

He was convicted in December 1989 of killing 28-year-old Gordon Ray Church in a remote location in Millard County.

I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.

Jim S

He is well overdue to receive his medicine!


Judge says Utah death row inmate competent
Posted: Friday, January 10, 2014

A Utah death row inmate convicted of killing a sister-in-law and her baby nearly three decades ago has been found competent to participate in a federal appeals process.
U.S. District Judge Dee Benson says 71-year-old Ron Lafferty does not suffer from a mental illness despite his belief that ghosts are tormenting him.

Thursday's ruling means Lafferty's federal appeals, on hold for four years, can resume.

Lafferty is trying to stop his execution for the 1984 killings. He claims he had a revelation that sanctioned the slayings because his brother's wife was resisting his beliefs in polygamy.
Another brother, Dan Lafferty, is serving a life sentence for the stabbing of their sister-in-law, Brenda Lafferty, and her 15-month-old daughter, Erica.
Ron Lafferty has chosen to die by firing squad instead of lethal injection.

I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.


Utah Supreme Court hears petition of death row inmate
June 2 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- For the fifth time since his conviction 29 years ago, the Utah Supreme Court heard arguments Monday from death row inmate Douglas Carter.

The justices are now weighing whether an apparent clerical error in the filing of his third post-conviction relief petition prevents a 4th District Court judge from considering it.

Carter's attorney, David Christensen, told the five-judge panel that the state is raising a technical issue to stop arguments on the merits of the petition. Lawyers for the condemned killer say they learned in 2011 that Provo police gave money and gifts to the prosecution's star witnesses and that the state hid the evidence.

Assistant attorney general Tom Brunker argued that Carter's lawyers didn't immediately try to correct the filing error and the petition didn't meet court deadlines. He previously said that the new evidence cited in the petition would not have changed the outcome of Carter's trial.

A jury convicted Carter, 59, of fatally stabbing and shooting 57-year-old Eva Oleson during a robbery at her Provo home in 1985. Jurors relied on Carter's written confession and his bragging to friends Epifanio and Lucia Tovar that he killed a woman. Oleson was the aunt of then Provo Police Chief Swen Nielsen.

The Tovars, who were initially scared to talk to police, testified during trial that other than a $14 check each received, Provo police did not give them any inducements to take the witness stand. Carter's attorneys say they learned that isn't true.

Later in a sworn declaration, the Tovars say police relocated them twice, paid their rent and utilities, and gave gifts to them and toys to their children. Police also sang Christmas carols at their home and brought them a Christmas tree.

The Tovars say they were told the living arrangements were for protection from Carter. They also say police threatened to deport them, file criminal charges and take away their son if they didn't cooperate in the case. Epifanio Tovar admitted to disposing of Carter's .38-caliber handgun used in the murder.

In 2012, the state supreme court denied Carter's second post-conviction relief petition in which he argued, among other things, that he had ineffective counsel during his trial. He also has an appeal pending in federal court.

Of the eight inmates on Utah's death row, he is the furthest along in the appeals process, but an execution date has not been set.

I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.


Utah Supreme Court rejects condemned killer's appeal
Ralph Leroy Menzies was convicted and sentenced to die for kidnapping, murder.
Last Updated Sep 23 2014 09:10 pm

The Utah Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected yet another appeal from condemned killer Ralph Leroy Menzies, but the death row inmate could still be years from possible execution.

Menzies was convicted by a jury in 1988 and sentenced to die for the 1986 kidnapping and slaying of Maurine Hunsaker, a 26-year-old mother of three.

Menzies, now 56, had challenged the constitutionality of Utah's appeals process; claimed that a previous court erred in rejecting several of his motions; and alleged that his former counsel provided ineffective assistance, including at trial, sentencing and on appeal.

"None of Mr. Menzies's claims have merit," the Utah Supreme Court wrote at the end of their 85-page opinion issued Monday morning.

The opinion noted that the Utah Supreme Court has previously issued three other opinions in Menzies' case during the 26 years since he was convicted.

Assistant Utah Attorney General Thomas Brunker said Menzies has 14 days to ask for a review of the state high court's ruling. Barring that, Utah will ask a federal district court to take up Menzies' appeal, which he filed several years ago.

After that, Menzies or the state would likely appeal any decision to the 10th Circuit and beyond, pushing back a possible execution date indefinitely.

Menzies, who has maintained his innocence over the years, is one of the remaining inmates who elected to be put to death by firing squad.

"I have, and always will maintain my innocence of the crime I'm on Death Row for," Menzies wrote in a letter in 2003. "I've done a lot of things in my life that I'm not proud of and would take back if possible, but killing someone is not one of them!"

In his appeal, Menzies outlined several instances in which he believes his former attorneys -- he has been through more than a dozen over the years -- failed him.

At trial and through sentencing, he was represented by then-defense attorney Brooke Wells, who is now a federal magistrate judge, and her co-counsel, Frances Palacios.

In his appeal to the Utah Supreme Court, Menzies accused them of failing to properly discredit witnesses, inadequate investigation, creating a conflict of interest by having him sign a liability waiver, being unprepared for the sentencing, not presenting mitigating evidence, hiding evidence of their errors, failing to object to a particular jury instruction involving the standard that a jury find him guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt" and not addressing Menzies's "alleged organic brain damage."

This question of brain damage, mental health and competence has come up numerous times over the years.

Menzies and his attorneys have argued that had he been allowed to plead guilty but mentally ill -- or if a diminished mental capacity had been proven at the time of the crime -- the outcome of the case would be different.

But the court ruled Tuesday that is not so.

"Pleading guilty but mentally ill would have no effect on the outcome of this case," the court wrote in its opinion, noting the court could have still imposed the death penalty if he had pleaded in such a way.

Brunker has argued that the only way Menzies could have received a reduction in penalty -- or lesser charges -- would have been if "when Menzies murdered Maurine ... a mental illness prevented Menzies from understanding that he was killing a person," court documents state.

As Menzies' case begins to wind its way through the federal system, it will be handled by a New Mexico district court judge.

All eight of Utah's federal judges recused themselves from the case, citing a conflict of interest given Wells and her prior involvement.

I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.


OGDEN -- Douglas Anderson Lovell is heading back to Utah's death row.

But the now twice-convicted killer doesn't believe he'll ever be executed, and based on his age and anticipated years of additional appeals he may be right.

The 57-year-old, who kidnapped and raped a South Ogden woman 30 years ago, then killed her to silence her, showed little emotion as his death sentence was announced Wednesday, clasping his hands and shaking his head as he spoke with his attorneys.

Second District Judge Michael DiReda ordered Lovell to die by lethal injection on May 29. That date was immediately stayed while the killer automatically begins another round of legal appeals expected to take many years.

An emotional nine-man, three-woman jury reached the decision Wednesday that Lovell should die after deliberating for 11 hours. One male juror put his head in his hands and cried as verdict forms were read in the courtroom. None of the jury members chose to speak publicly following the trial.

Lovell is no stranger to facing death. The Clearfield man was sentenced to die for the same crimes in 1993. He spent 17 years on death row after he pleaded guilty to the brutal 1985 murder of Joyce Yost.

After years of appeals, the Utah Supreme Court allowed Lovell to withdraw that guilty plea in 2010 and a new trial was ordered. The same jurors who sentenced him to die Wednesday determined last month that he was guilty of kidnapping Yost from her South Ogden home and then murdering her.

"This is a very, very good day for Joyce and a good day for our family," Yost's son, Greg Roberts, said of the jury's decision.

A determined family

Two generations of Yost's family gathered with her two children to hear the verdict. Among them were spouses and grandchildren with little or no memory of Yost, outside of stories family members have shared and pictures that hang in their homes.

They wept together Wednesday as they celebrated the verdict and a day they said they thought would never come. But they also acknowledged that it was a painful decision for the jury.

"It's our justice system, and it may be slow in these capital murder cases, but so far it's been right the whole way, and we appreciate it," Roberts said.

Kim Salazar, Yost's daughter, reiterated her long-held belief that the crimes committed against her mother warrant a death sentence.

"The things that he did -- incredible, horrible things to do to someone that he didn't know, that didn't deserve it -- and then to have such disregard to human life other than his own," she said.

When two attempts to hire others to kill Yost failed, Lovell climbed into an unlocked window at Yost's home and forced the woman to pack a bag so that it would appear she had left town. He then drugged her so she would be too disoriented to call for help and drove her to Ogden Canyon, where he choked her, stomped on her neck and buried her in leaves. He returned later to bury her body.

Yost's body was never found, and without the chance to bury and mourn her, her family will never truly have closure, Salazar said.

The family remains committed to the case despite years of previous appeals and appeals that lie ahead, Salazar said.

"It's been going on for 23 years. I know the path, I know it well," she said. "I'm determined."

Gambling with his life

Because a life sentence without parole was not a legal option when Yost was murdered in 1985, if the jury hadn't chosen the death penalty for Lovell, its only other option was life in prison with a possibility of parole.

Jurors could have had the option of imposing a sentence of life in prison without parole had Lovell granted permission. But Lovell asked that it not be, defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis said.

"It was a gamble," Bouwhuis said.

Until the verdict came down Wednesday, Lovell had held onto the hope that he might someday be released from prison, Bouwhuis said. Now, however, he knows better.

"If he got life without parole, then from his perspective there was no hope of ever getting out," he said. "Regardless of whether people agree with it, he felt he had done enough over the past 30 years to have that chance at some point."

Ultimately, Lovell doesn't believe he will ever be executed in light of the years of appeals he faces, as well as the growing debate against capital punishment, Bouwhuis said.

He believes that the jury opted for the death sentence out of concern that Lovell might one day be paroled.

The Utah Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that a judge did not fully inform Lovell about some of his rights when he entered into a plea bargain in 1993. The deal was designed to help him avoid the death penalty so long as he revealed where he had buried Yost. But an exhaustive search of the mountains east of Ogden failed to identify any evidence of Yost's remains and a judge subsequently sentenced Lovell to die.

The case for death

Lovell's attorneys made it clear over the past few weeks they were not arguing Lovell's innocence in the trial, only that he should not be sentenced to die. Bouwhuis insisted that Lovell had, in fact, attempted to cooperate with investigators in the search for Yost's body.

"The fact of the matter is Doug Lovell didn't want to die," Bouwhuis said. "Clearly, he still doesn't want to die."

Bouwhuis also attempted to cast aspersions on Rhonda Butters, Lovell's ex-wife and a co-conspirator in the murder, highlighting the disparity between a death sentence for this client and no punishment for Butters. It was Butters who visited Lovell in prison in the early 90s in order to secretly record his confession for prosecutors, winning her immunity.

Prosecutors, however, highlighted the brutality of Lovell's crimes, which he committed alone. The killing wasn't just an attack on Yost, already the victim of a brutal crime, it assailed the foundations of the criminal justice system, they said.

"His motive was to save himself, at the expense of all else, at the expense of Joyce Yost, her family and the justice system," deputy Weber County attorney Christopher Shaw told jurors during closing arguments Tuesday.

The justice system had failed Yost once, he said, asking jurors: "Don't let it happen again."

As part of their verdict, jurors also determined that Lovell was guilty of five additional crimes that he was never charged for: aggravated sexual assault, forcible sodomy, witness tampering and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder.

I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.

Grinning Grim Reaper

Utah keeps death penalty despite strong push to abolish

Associated Press By MICHELLE L. PRICE and HALLIE GOLDEN 5 hours ago
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A surprising push to abolish the death penalty in deep-red Utah ran out of steam, as the Republican lawmaker shepherding the measure said he didn't have enough votes to pass it before a midnight deadline.

The proposal won enough support in the GOP-dominated Legislature to be one debate and vote away from final passage, a surprising turnaround from lawmakers' vote a year ago to revive the use of firing squads in executions if lethal drugs are unavailable.

"I think that people ruled us out at every step and we kept progressing," said state Sen. Steve Urquhart, the Republican pushing to end capital punishment.

Unable to secure enough votes, Urquhart abandoned the push Thursday night after briefly shopping the idea of a moratorium instead.

The lawmaker told The Associated Press that he came very close to securing a majority of votes from the 75 members of the House of Representatives. But he said too many undecided legislators would have needed hours of convincing.

"I can't say that the bill is totally a victim of the clock, but you know, if we had another week or so, it would be interesting to see what would have happened," he said.

Even if it had passed, the measure faced an uncertain future with Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, who supports capital punishment in extreme cases but wouldn't say if he would veto the measure.

Herbert told the AP on Thursday evening that he was concerned about the decades of delays that death row inmates spend appealing their sentences and higher costs of capital cases.

"I'm pro-death penalty, but with the parameters that it's done on very rare occasions for the most heinous of crimes," he said. "And that's how Utah has utilized it over the last 40 years. We've only had seven executions in 40 years. This is not Texas."

The governor said he was a bit surprised how much support the repeal measure had received.

Shortly before Urquhart said he was ending the push, the older brother of the last man executed in the state interrupted legislators by shouting at them from the House gallery.

Randy Gardner of Salt Lake City, who opposes capital punishment, unfurled a banner with autopsy images of his younger brother while yelling "Nobody has the right to do that to somebody. I don't care who he is and what he did."

Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed in 2010 by firing squad. He killed a bartender and later shot a lawyer to death and wounded a bailiff during a 1985 courthouse escape attempt.

Legislative security removed the banner from Randy Gardner and took him outside in handcuffs. He told reporters he was upset that it appeared lawmakers would not vote on the repeal.

"They're not listening to us," he said.

Nineteen other states and the District of Columbia have abolished capital punishment, and lawmakers, including Republicans, in more than half a dozen other states have suggested their states should do the same.

The Utah repeal measure was originally believed to meet quick roadblocks in Utah, but Urquhart framed the issue in terms that appealed to lawmakers' libertarian leanings. He argued that the death penalty is costly and gives imperfect governments a godlike power over life and death.

Death penalty supporters argued Urquhart's repeal would leave prosecutors shortchanged at the bargaining table, where they would otherwise negotiate a plea deal of a life sentence without parole in lieu of execution.

Other critics said that for especially heinous crimes, execution is a just punishment.

The debate comes amid a renewed national discussion about capital punishment.

A shortage of lethal-injection drugs in the U.S. in recent years has led several states to pass or consider laws to bring back other execution methods, such as electrocution. Last year, Utah lawmakers voted to reinstate firing squads as a backup method to ensure the state had a way to kill death row inmates if it couldn't get lethal-injection drugs.

Utah lawmakers stopped offering inmates the choice of firing squad in 2004, saying the method attracted intense media interest and took away attention from victims.

Last year's resurrection of the firing squad made it an option for all death row inmates, if drug cannot be obtained 30 days before their execution. Utah is the only state in four decades to carry out such a death sentence, with three executions by firing squad since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Most Utah lawmakers are Mormon, but the firing-squad effort didn't seem linked to any teachings or doctrine from the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Mormon church takes a neutral position on capital punishment.

Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

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