Utah to challenge judge’s ruling overturning death row conviction

Nov 28, 2022, 6:03 PM | Updated: 6:20 pm
Douglas Stewart Carter prisoner...
Defense lawyer Mark Moffat, left, clears a spot at the table for death row inmate Douglas Stewart Carter during a hearing in Provo's 4th District Court in October 2007. (POOL PHOTO)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah’s attorney general plans to file an appeal challenging a judge’s decision to overturn a death penalty conviction three years after the state’s Supreme Court ordered a new trial due to claims of prosecutorial misconduct.

Douglas Stewart Carter, 67, has been on death row since 1985, when a jury found him guilty of the aggravated murder of 57-year-old Eva Olesen, the aunt of a former Provo police chief who was found stabbed and shot in the head.

Though there was no physical evidence linking Carter to the crime scene, prosecutors secured a conviction based on a written confession from Carter, who is Black, and two witnesses who testified he had bragged about killing Olesen. Carter later argued the confession was coerced.

Douglas Stewart Carter is seen in this undated photo released Feb. 10, 2022. (Utah Department of Corrections)

After decades of appeals, the Utah Supreme Court in 2019 reversed Carter’s conviction and ordered a new trial after the witnesses — Epifanio Tovar and Lucia Tovar — said police and prosecutors offered them gifts and money, coached them to lie in court and threatened them with deportation if they didn’t cooperate. The Tovars were immigrants without legal status.

Police said the funds were intended for witness protection.

The Supreme Court’s reversal drew widespread attention in Utah and renewed focus on questions about whether capital punishment should be permitted in the state. Utah was the first state to execute someone after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted its moratorium in 1976.

In his ruling overturning Carter’s conviction, Judge Derek Pullan ruled that the Tovars’ testimonies prejudiced Carter’s trial and gave Utah five days to decide whether to challenge his decision to overturn the conviction.

Douglas Stewart Carter, who has been on death row since 1985, has his shackles removed so he can take notes at defense table during a hearing in Provo’s 4th District Court on Oct. 2, 2007. (POOL PHOTO)

“The State knowingly failed to disclose that the testimony was false and coached by police. Carter’s conviction was secured — at least in part — on the basis of this false testimony,” Pullan wrote in a decision last week.

Rich Piatt, a spokesperson for the Utah Attorney General’s office said in a statement that the state planned to appeal Pullan’s ruling.

“The office has full confidence that both Carter’s conviction and death sentence will be reinstated on appeal, especially in light of the fact that Carter confessed to committing this murder,” he said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Michael Houck

Passenger dead after attempting to move crashed truck on SR-89

A passenger was fatally hit by a trailer after a car crashed into it Friday night, according to Utah Highway Patrol
21 hours ago
One the of climbers in the training camp climbing a wall. (KSL-TV's Alex Cabrero)...
Alex Cabrero

USA Climbing Camp for Paris 2024 begins in Salt Lake City

As the Summer 2024 Olympic Games draws closer, those athletes looking to participate begin their training. 
21 hours ago
The large herd of about 60 elk near the mouth of Parley's Canyon on Thursday. (Utah Department of W...
Michael Houck

DWR officials warn of migrating elk entering Salt Lake City

A migrating herd of approximately 60 elk is causing problems for residents and drivers near the mouth of Parley's Canyon.
21 hours ago
Former longtime Murray Mayor Dan Snarr is photographed on Dec. 13, 2013. Snarr, 73, was charged Thu...
Pat Reavy

Former Murray mayor accused of spitting in driver’s face in road rage case

The former longtime mayor of Murray has been charged with spitting in the face of another driver during a road rage incident.
21 hours ago
Handcuffs in a jail cell FILE PHOTO (Ravell Call/Deseret News)...
Pat Reavy

Sandy man threatened to kill parents after shooting TVs, police say

A Sandy man was charged Friday with shooting two televisions and threatening to kill his parents and go on a killing spree.
21 hours ago

West Jordan man arrested in child porn, voyeurism investigation

A man who described himself to police as being highly skilled with computers has been arrested for allegedly possessing child porn and placing hidden cameras in his home.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

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.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Utah to challenge judge’s ruling overturning death row conviction