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Nine remain on Utah's death row

Nine remain on Utah's death row

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DRAPER -- Now that Ronnie Lee Gardner has been executed, nine condemned inmates remain on Utah's Death Row.

Prosecutors say the number of death penalty-level cases is not decreasing, but their willingness to risk pursuing the most stringent penalty possible is.

Firing Squad-Eligible

Four inmates currently have the firing squad selected as their preference for execution.

Ron Lafferty has been on Utah's books since 1984, when he and his brother, Dan, killed their brother Allen's wife and baby in a slaying motivated by religion.

Ralph Menzies kidnapped and strangled a Kearns woman in 1986.

Troy Kell, a white separatist, got the death penalty after stabbing a black inmate 67 times in the prison in Gunnison in 1994.

Taberon Honie sexually-assaulted and murdered his ex-girlfriend's mother in Cedar City.

Corrections officials say it is unclear why some inmates choose the firing squad over lethal injection.

"I'd hate to say a blanket statement this is why people choose it," Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke said.

Gehrke says either method makes no difference to the department.


"The court order is what we follow and we'll put in place whatever they call for us to do," Gehrke said.

Others on death row

Five of Utah's nine Death Row inmates have not selected the firing squad as their preferred means of death.

Douglas Lovell murdered Joyce Yost in 1985 to prevent her from testifying against him.

Douglas Stewart Carter stabbed and shot to death the aunt of a former police chief in Provo in 1985.

Michael Anthony Archuleta raped and murdered a gay Southern Utah University student in 1988.

Von Lester Taylor murdered and terrorized members of a family at a cabin in 1990.

Floyd Maestas was convicted of the home invasion robbery and murder of 72-year-old Donna Lou Bott.

Retired prosecutor Kent Morgan worked the Maestas case.

"He has a history of beating on elderly women," Morgan said.

Morgan can recount the details of every death row case.

"How do you know about the other cases? It's simple," Morgan told KSL Newsradio. "To prosecute your case, you're standing on the shoulders of all the giants who have prosecuted all of these people in the past."

Morgan says death penalty-level cases get under prosecutors' skin, but fewer are pursued in court. He says prosecutors more frequently are choosing to err on the side of a life sentence than try to hit a home run by pursuing a death penalty conviction. Those kinds of cases are very difficult to prosecute.

That said, Morgan tells KSL the number of death penalty-level cases is not going down.

"It's like waiting out in left field or right field," Morgan said. "Eventually they're gonna hit a ball to you and you're going to have to deal with it."



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Andrew Adams


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