LOCAL NEWS

Utah Man Closer To Death By Firing Squad After Losing Appeal

Aug 13, 2019, 7:16 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:03 pm
Ron Lafferty, left, and defense attorney Ron Yengich review legal documents in 4th District Court i...
Ron Lafferty, left, and defense attorney Ron Yengich review legal documents in 4th District Court in Provo on Sept. 25, 2002. (Photo: Stuart Johnson, Deseret News)
(Photo: Stuart Johnson, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah death row inmate featured in the popular book “Under the Banner of Heaven” after killing his sister-in-law and her child for resisting his polygamist beliefs inched closer to becoming the first American to be executed by firing squad in nearly a decade after losing his latest appeal Monday.

Ron Lafferty could be executed as soon as next year after his latest legal setback, said Andrew Peterson, assistant solicitor general at the Utah attorney general’s office.

Lafferty’s lawyer, Dale Baich, said in an email that he will use all options to challenge the ruling and will likely ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

Lafferty chose the firing squad decades ago when he was sentenced to die — before Utah changed its law to use it only as a backup method if lethal injection drugs aren’t available.

The last time a firing squad was used in the U.S. was in 2010, when Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed in Utah for the 1984 murder of an attorney during a failed courthouse escape.

Lafferty was convicted in the 1984 slayings of his sister-in-law and her baby daughter, which he carried out with his brother. He claimed to get a revelation from God to kill the two because of her resistance to his fundamentalist beliefs in polygamy.

His case became well known nationwide when it was included in Jon Krakauer’s 2003 book about radical offshoots of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Krakauer also wrote the popular books “Into Thin Air” and “Into the Wild.”

Lafferty’s lawyers have argued that he suffered from mental illness, and his punishment was out of line with the life sentence given to his brother Dan Lafferty, among other objections.

The ruling Monday by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver backed lower-court judges in their previous rejections of the arguments.

His lawyer, Baich, expressed disappointment that the court relied on what he described as “procedural technicalities” to deny Lafferty a complete review of his case.

“When the most severe penalty a state can impose is at stake, we look to the courts to be the safety net to ensure that the full protections allowed by the constitution have been met,” Baich said in a statement.

Peterson, the prosecutor, said he’s pleased Lafferty’s countless appeals have nearly run their course. He said he considers it a long shot that the U.S. Supreme Court would take the case.

“Five judges have said there’s nothing in this case worth spending any more time on,” Peterson said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Randy Martin working on a reading station in West Valley City. (KSL-TV's Mike Anderson)...
Mike Anderson

Utah air quality is continuing to get worse, says USU professor

A Utah State University professor says that Utahns are breathing some of the worst air we've seen in over a decade.
1 day ago
The area where first responders rescued the two people (Weber Fire District)...
Michael Houck

Two rescued from Pineview Reservoir after falling through ice

Officials are warning residents of thin ice after two people needed rescuing from the Pineview Reservoir Saturday morning. 
1 day ago
(KSL TV)...
Michael Houck

Police: Man threatening neighbors with knife, leads officers in multi-agency chase

A man is in police custody after "waving" a knife around bystanders and fleeing from police Friday evening.
1 day ago
Presenters at the Health Relationship Youth Summit asking for final questions. (KSL-TV's Mark Less)...
Alex Cabrero

Utah teens learn more about healthy relationships at youth summit

Teenagers gathered at a Healthy Relationship Youth Summit to learn more about the signs of unhealthy relationships and be able to identify them.
1 day ago
snow covered bowl in Utah mountains...
Michael Houck

Woman hit by snowmobile while tubing near Peter Sinks, flown to U of U hospital

First responders treated a woman hit by a snowmobile while tubing near the Peter Sinks area Saturday afternoon.
1 day ago
For 29 years, Mike Skogerboe has been to nearly every girls and boys basketball game, and nearly ev...
Mike Anderson

Fremont High School helps support their superfan

Students and teachers at Fremont High School teamed up to help out their superfan who rarely misses a game.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Utah Man Closer To Death By Firing Squad After Losing Appeal