Ron Lafferty Scheduled to Appeal His Death Sentence

Ron Lafferty Scheduled to Appeal His Death Sentence

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- One of Utah's most notorious death-row inmates, whose story was the subject of the book "Under the Banner of Heaven," is scheduled to appeal his sentence on Thursday.

Ron Lafferty, 64, was convicted twice in the murder of his sister-in-law, Brenda Lafferty, 24, who was married to his brother Allen, and their 15-month-old daughter, Erica, in American Fork. Both Brenda Lafferty and the toddler had their throats slashed.

Fourth District Judge Anthony Schofield in Provo is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Lafferty's contention that his original legal team provided him with ineffective counsel.

Lafferty's attorney, Aric Cramer, said Wednesday they intend to argue that the trial was flawed through his trial attorney's errors and omissions.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that attorneys on a death penalty case must meet certain American Bar Association guidelines, Cramer said.

"We believe at trial in 1996 his trial counsel didn't meet those ABA standards," he said.

Attorneys for the state have filed a motion for summary judgment dismissing the appeal, said state Assistant Attorney General Thomas Brunker.

If Schofield finds in the state's favor, Lafferty would then appeal to the Utah Supreme Court. If not, the case would continue to a hearing on the evidence, he said.

Convicted with Lafferty in the July 24, 1984, double murder was another brother, Dan, who claims they were told in a revelation from God to kill their sister-in-law and their niece. The killings were the subject of the 2003 book on religious extremism called "Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith," by Jon Krakauer.

Dan Lafferty was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole. In a separate trial, Ron Lafferty was convicted and sentenced to die.

The conviction was overturned due to a court error. He was tried again in 1996 and was again convicted and condemned to death.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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