Fourth District Judge Ray M. Harding has denied a motion filed by a Utah state prison inmate to withdraw a guilty murder plea that was entered 12 years ago.
James Earl Blair, also known as James Earl Smith, will continue to serve a life sentence for the murder of Robyn LeRoy Halsey of Scipio, Millard County. The inmate pleaded guilty to the first-degree-murder charge July 25, l978.Blair claimed his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary, he was inadequately advised by his counsel and his case was prejudiced by the prosecution's misconduct.
Blair also said that William Lloyd Eastwood pulled the trigger on the gun that killed Halsey. He contended the two men had agreed that Smith would plead guilty to the murder, Eastwood would sue for false arrest and the two would split the money from the lawsuit when Smith got out of prison.
Eastwood pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is serving a sentence in another state through an agreement with Utah authorities.
In denying Smith's request for a new trial, Harding also said a new trial would be impossible "because of the effect 12 years delay has upon evidence, availability of witnesses and the memories of these witness."