LOCAL NEWS

Prosecutors call on Utah Governor, Legislature to repeal & replace death penalty

Sep 14, 2021, 6:53 PM | Updated: 9:29 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Four Utah prosecutors have stated they want to repeal the death penalty.

On Tuesday, they sent an open letter to Gov. Spencer Cox and the Utah State Legislature, calling on them to do so.

The action comes one week after the Utah County Attorney said he would no longer prosecute death penalty cases and two Republican lawmakers said they would sponsor a bill to repeal the death penalty and replace it with a new law.

In the open letter, the district and county attorneys from Grand, Salt Lake, Summit and Utah counties wrote that the death penalty is a defect in the justice system.

They wrote it’s their duty to call out the defect to the legislature and urge them to repeal it.

“The death penalty is a big lie. It’s the lie that we tell ourselves as humans. It’s the lie we tell ourselves as prosecutors. It’s a lie we tell ourselves as politicians,” Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said at a press conference Tuesday.

The prosecutors want to replace the death penalty with a new sentence for aggravated murder of 45 years to life.

Two Republican lawmakers plan to support that legislation next session.

Leavitt, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, and Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson were joined by the county attorney from Grand County in the open letter.

“The death penalty today in Utah is a permanent and irreversible sentence within an imperfect system,” said Gill.

They argued capital punishment fails to deter crime, re-traumatizes victims, disproportionately applies to minorities, is expensive and it makes plea negotiations coercive.

“Instead of the death penalty providing closure to victims, the constitutional appeals that follow mean a death sentence will take decades to impose, if it ever happens,” said Olson.

Gill said his office has been working on these issues for five or six years.

Leavitt upset victims’ families last week when he said he would no longer seek the death penalty against a man accused of murdering two people and dumping their bodies in an abandoned mineshaft.

He said his county commissioners support his decision.

“The death penalty simply is the big lie that we tell ourselves to help us believe that we are making a difference, but really, what’s occurring is we are making ourselves more at risk in so many ways,” said Leavitt.

The bipartisan group believes this is not a liberal or conservative issue, rather, it’s an American issue.

“The death penalty offers a false hope,” said Gill. “It’s a fraud. It says that we will give you a measure of justice, but we can never give a measure of justice, ever, because justice would be that this incident never happened.”

The state of Utah has not carried out an execution since 2010, when Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by firing squad, 25 years after the murder he committed.

Leavitt said that he is interested in working on justice reform that begins with repealing and replacing the death penalty.

“Let’s try to create preventative programs now that will prevent the murders from occurring in the first place. That’s true community protection, and that’s what we’re seeking with this,” said Leavitt.

Under this proposal, the possible sentences for aggravated murder would be life without parole, 45 years to life, or 25 years to life.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

...
Karah Brackin

Annual health report shows that children are struggling to find mental help

A new report shows how Utah youth is stacking up against the rest of the country when it comes to mental health wellness.
17 hours ago
(Wasatch Fire District)...
Madison Swenson

Crews fighting new lightning-sparked wildfire in Wasatch County

The public has been asked to avoid the area while crews fight a new wildfire south of the town of Daniel.
17 hours ago
The scene of the officer involved shooting on August 7 outside of the Indoor Swap Meet....
Michael Houck

Police shot man they say robbed 2 after shooting at them

A 39-year-old man is facing felony charges after allegedly robbing two men and shooting one with a gun on Sunday. 
17 hours ago
FILE (KSL TV)...
Madison Swenson

Three arrested on obstruction of justice charges in South Salt Lake homicide

Three people were arrested Wednesday after a court approved search warrant was served on a home in Roy related to a South Salt Lake homicide investigation.
17 hours ago
Police located a car involved in an American Fork, Utah parking lot shooting. A child in the back s...
Larry D. Curtis and Matt Rascon, KSL TV

Search continues for Utah man shot at during police confrontation, abduction

An evening shoplifting call Tuesday turned into police shooting at a car with a 5-year-old child in the back seat and a driver that authorities are still searching for Wednesday afternoon.
17 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Eliza Pace

Man in critical condition after fall at construction site

A man is in critical condition after he fell from the 6th floor of the construction zone at St Mark's Hospital Tuesday. 
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Prosecutors call on Utah Governor, Legislature to repeal & replace death penalty