Most gamblers would be ecstatic if their odds of losing were only between eight and 17 out of 151 - or between 5 percent and 11 percent. It would almost be considered a sure bet.
It turns out that is what the odds were of actually being executed for those offenders sentenced to die back in 1974, when Ogden Hi-Fi shop murderer William Andrews was convicted, according to a federal study released Sunday.Andrews and eight other convicts in Florida, Georgia and Texas who were sentenced to die in 1974 but were still alive as of last December have been on death row longer than any other prisoners - 16 years. Andrews has filed 26 different appeals in those years.
A U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study said the lion's share of the 151 people given death sentences that same year escaped execution with the help of such appeals.
For example, 65 escaped when their states' death-penalty statutes were ruled unconstitutional; 29 had their sentences overturned on appeal; 21 had their sentences commuted; 15 had their convictions overturned; and four died of natural causes.
Only eight were actually executed - including Pierre Dale Selby, who along with Andrews was convicted of murdering three people at the Hi-Fi Shop on April 22, 1974.
The odds of being executed for those convicted in other years were not much different.
For example, of the 299 sentenced in 1975, only five were executed and 14 were still on death row at the end of 1989. For the 234 sentenced in 1976, only eight were executed and 17 were still on death row.
The study said, "Since 1977, a total of 3,746 offenders have been under a death sentence for varying lengths of time. There were 120 executions (3.2 percent of thoseat risk) and 1,376 removals (36.7 percent of those at risk)."
It added, "For those executed since 1977, the average time between the imposition of the most recent sentence received and execution was 6 years and 7 months."
Those were only some of the finding in the study, "Capital Punishment 1989," which noted developments in capital-case rulings and trends among the states.
Among other death-sentence statistics regarding Utah are:
- Utah is among only 13 states that have executed prisoners since Supreme Court rulings in the early 1970s rewrote guidelines for death sentences. The execution of Gary Gilmore at the Utah State Prison in 1977 was the first under those guidelines.
- Utah executed three of the 120 prisoners killed between 1977 and 1989 nationwide. They were Gilmore, Selby and Arthur Gary Bishop.
The numbers of executions through 1989 in other states were Texas, 66; Florida, 21; Louisiana, 18; Georgia, 14; Virginia, 8; Alabama, 7; Mississippi and Nevada, 4; Indiana and South Carolina, 4; North Carolina, 3; and Missouri, 1.
- Utah had 11 of the 2,250 people nationally on death rows at the end of 1989. Texas had the most, 304, followed by Florida with 289. Sixteen states had no one on death row. Fourteen states do not allow the death penalty.
- Utah had three of the 250 people sentenced to death in 1989.
- Utah and Idaho are the only states that allow execution by firing squad. Utah is also among 20 states that allow execution by lethal injection.
- Utah and Missouri are the two states where teenagers who were 14 years old at the time of their crime could be sentenced to death - the lowest minimum age for death sentences in the nation.