Court Allows Attorney to Appeal for Death-row Inmate

Court Allows Attorney to Appeal for Death-row Inmate

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed that attorney Ed Brass may pursue an appeal in behalf of death-row inmate Roberto Arguelles even though it is without Arguelles' permission.

The court's action Monday means that it will consider Brass' petition for review of Arguelles' case, but that does not mean the court will hear the case, Assistant Utah Attorney General Thomas Brunker said.

Brunker now has 30 days to respond to Brass' petition, and sometime after that the parties will learn if the court will accept the case.

Brass was appointed to act as standby counsel after Arguelles insisted on representing himself throughout his prosecution. Brass was again appointed as an advocate for the court during Arguelles' mandatory appeal to the Utah Supreme Court.

He was released from the case after Arguelles' conviction was upheld earlier this year, but has continued to file motions in the case because he believes Arguelles is not competent to proceed on his own.

Arguelles was scheduled to be executed in June, but the execution was stayed after Department of Corrections officials questioned Arguelles' mental state and a state court judge ordered a full competency evaluation.

Arguelles, 41, was on parole in 1992 when he kidnapped, sexually assaulted and killed Margo Bond, 42, Stephanie Blundell, 13, Lisa Martinez, 16, and Tuesday Roberts, 14. He pleaded guilty to four counts of capital homicide.

Arguelles had had a court-ordered evaluation was in 2000, after he tried to hang himself with a laundry bag and was briefly in a coma. He was declared competent.

However, in March 2001, Karen Stam, an attorney who formerly represented Arguelles, wrote to the Utah Supreme Court that Arguelles "continues to deteriorate mentally, collecting and eating feces regularly."

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

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