Menzies Likely to Get Execution Stay

Menzies Likely to Get Execution Stay

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A state assistant attorney general says he won't fight a request to stay Ralph LeRoy Menzies' execution that had been scheduled for next month.

Menzies, 45, was set to die Nov. 10 for the kidnapping and murder of Maurine Hunsaker, a 26-year-old wife and mother of three.

The stay application, filed Friday in U.S. District Court by attorney Elizabeth Hunt, also requested that she be named Menzies' attorney. A hearing is set Nov. 6 on the motion.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Brunker said Friday that he would not fight the stay.

Under a 1994 U.S. Supreme Court decision, condemned people are entitled to a stay if they ask for an attorney and show that a federal court has jurisdiction to delay the execution, even if they have not yet filed their first federal petition challenging their conviction.

Hunsaker was kidnapped Feb. 23, 1986, from the Kearns gas station where she worked. She called her husband that night, saying she had been kidnapped and robbed but expected to be set free. Her body was found two days later near the Storm Mountain picnic area in Big Cottonwood Canyon. She had been strangled and her throat slashed.

Third District Judge Leslie Lewis on Sept. 11 signed Menzies' death warrant after hearing a statement from Matt Hunsaker, the victim's oldest son, in which he expressed exasperation at the 17-year wait for justice in the case and urged Lewis to bring about closure for his family.

Hunsaker said Friday that the news was not completely unexpected, but the latest delay is "a frustration, more than anything. . . . Now we're into a waiting game again. I was always hoping that this guy would have given up by now."

The Utah Supreme Court earlier this week denied Hunt's request to stay Menzies' execution or force a lower court to do so.

The federal stay application, however, does not stop issues pending before 3rd District Judge Pat Brian.

Hunt is asking Brian to set aside a January 2002 ruling rejecting Menzies' challenge to his conviction. The ruling came after Menzies' former defense attorney, Ed Brass, failed to respond to prosecutors' motion seeking the rejection.

Brass filed a notice of appeal after the ruling was issued, but never filed the appeal itself. Brass has since withdrawn from the case.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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