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Allgier tattoos won't be covered during potential penalty phase, judge says

Published: Thursday, Sept. 2 2010 12:17 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Whether Curtis Allgier will be able to cover up the tattoos that span the entire surface of his head and body during his upcoming capital murder trial has not yet been decided.

But the judge who will ultimately make the decision expressed some doubts Wednesday about how it could be done.

"What if at some point he sneezed or coughed or rubbed his makeup to show the tattoos?" 3rd District Judge Paul Maughan asked. "I'm just trying to figure out the logistics."

He said he was worried about the implications of granting such a motion — particularly the cost and time it may take to cover the ink on the face, neck, chest, arms and hands of the man accused of killing corrections officer Stephen Anderson in 2007. But defense attorneys assured the judge that Allgier could be covered up within 10 minutes.

Maughan, however, said that even if he were to allow Allgier's various white supremacy, neo-Nazi-themed tattoos to be covered during trial, he would not allow them to be covered up during a penalty phase — a hearing during which jurors would decide whether to recommend life or death for Allgier should he be convicted.

"I can tell you right now that's not going to happen," Maughan said. "In the penalty phase, the state has the right to present Mr. Allgier as Mr. Allgier."

Defense attorneys have argued that allowing the tattoos to remain visible to jurors would be "prejudicial."

"We think that he should be judged on what he's proven to have done and not what he looks like," defense attorney Ralph Dellapiana said.

Prosecutors counter that Allgier should appear as he was at the time of the crime for the sake of identification. They say Utah law requires the "defendant appear in court with his tattoos exposed just as he appeared on the day of the alleged crime and just as the victim saw him — tattoos and all."

Defense attorneys also asked Wednesday for copies of all audio and visual recordings made during every day of Allgier's time in jail — from June 25, 2007 to the present. Though the judge was resistant to granting the request citing the "cost and the waste of time," Dellapiana said Allgier's life may depend on those recordings.

"Assuming he's convicted of aggravated murder, in the penalty phase it will be important to see if he can be safely managed in a correctional facility," Dellapiana said after the hearing. "We think that these videos will show that even when he's provoked by guards, he always acts like a model prisoner and maintains an appropriate and respectful demeanor."

Attorneys for Allgier said they intend to file as many as 50 to 60 additional motions in the case. Dellapiana said the next will address alleged breaches of attorney-client privilege because he believes jail officials have been monitoring their meetings with Allgier and reading Allgier's mail.

In addition to aggravated murder, Allgier is facing a number of other charges, including aggravated escape, aggravated robbery and three counts of aggravated attempted murder — all first-degree felonies. Prosecutors contend that Allgier stole Anderson's gun, shot him, carjacked a vehicle and then led police on a chase in which he twice tried to run over a deputy who was setting up road spikes before trying to kill a restaurant worker and customer at an Arby's restaurant.

Allgier's next hearing will be Sept. 15.

e-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

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