Death row inmate takes wedding vows in handcuffs

Published: Thursday, Dec. 9 2010 10:25 p.m. MST

DRAPER — Utah death row inmate Troy Kell was married at the Utah State Prison on Thursday afternoon.

Details on who the woman is and how the pair met are unknown, but prison officials confirmed that the wedding took place before two witnesses and a justice of the peace, which is customary unless the inmate designates a different officiant, Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke said.

The nuptials took place in a small room with a barrier that prevents any physical contact. Kell's violent history, which includes his time in prison, required that he remain handcuffed during the entire ceremony. The two were not allowed any contact before, during or after the wedding took place.

Kell was sentenced to death in 1996 for the brutal murder of fellow inmate Lonnie Blackmon, whom Kell stabbed 67 times with a homemade shank. He was seen on prison video surveillance tape recordings, strutting and yelling "white power" after killing Blackmon, who was African-American.

The death row inmate was initially given a life sentence without parole in Nevada for shooting James Kelly six times in the face. He was then moved to the Utah State Prison in Gunnison as part of a prisoner exchange program.

It was there, in 1994, when he stabbed Blackmon, leading him to have more limits placed on his activity in prison.

"Troy is more restricted than the typical death row inmate because of the crime and his behavior," Gehrke said. "A typical death row inmate would have more privileges and freedoms than Troy Kell would."

While most death row inmates are let out of their cells for recreation time one hour each day, Kell is only allowed out for a one-hour stretch three times a week.

He is allowed two visitations per month, which can last up to an hour and a half, all of which must take place behind a glass partition. He can write as many letters from his solitary confinement cell as his materials allow.

Any phone calls the man would make would have to be placed to those on an approved list and during Kell's three hours of out-of-cell time, Gehrke said.

His trial for aggravated murder was held within the prison compound because of security concerns. He was set to die by firing squad in 2003, but he filed an appeal. The process for that appeal is ongoing.

Gehrke said Kell and his fiancée met all of the requirements to make the wedding possible, including a background check on the woman.

Salt Lake County Jail inmate Curtis Allgier, also known for his white-supremacist views, planned a wedding earlier this year — on Adolf Hitler's birthday — but it was canceled at the last minute. Allgier is facing the death penalty in the 2007 slaying of corrections officer Stephen Anderson.

Salt Lake County Correctional Lt. Michael Deniro said the decision to cancel the wedding was made by Allgier and his fiancée.

"They are not married, and there are no plans at this time," Deniro said.

e-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

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