A Senate panel heard Tuesday that Utah has the perfect reason that Congress should limits on convicts' appeals: Hi Fi Shop murderer William Andrews.
Officials believe he has been on death row longer than any prisoner in the nation.Robert Wallace, an original prosecutor of Andrews 17 years ago who has continued to oppose Andrews' 27 separate appeals since then, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Andrews' seemingly limitless appeals tarnish the entire judicial system.
"I feel it's caused disrespect of the judiciary system and the legislative system in Utah," he told the Deseret News before his testimony. "I would like them (members of Congress) to limit the time that it takes to decide an appeal and the number of appeals."
One member of the committee - Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah - readily agreed. He has has long pushed for such limits, which are now part of a bill sponsored by Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C.
Hatch told the panel, "One does not need to know anything about habeas corpus (the process used to appeal state convictions to federal courts) to know that when it takes 15 years or more to carry out a death sentence, something is terribly wrong with the system."
Hatch added about Andrews - who was convicted in November 1974 - "Although it has been 14 years since the Utah Supreme Court affirmed his murder conviction on all counts, Andrews has succeeded in obtaining 27 subsequent reviews of his sentence, most of them in federal court.
"Since Jan. 1, 1976, when he filed his first appeal until now, Andrews has never been out of court. Although he has lost every appeal, he has been allowed to keep filing new ones, and still no end is in sight," Hatch said.
Wallace said Andrews' 17 years of appeals have included four different petitions to the U.S. Supreme Court and eight different execution dates being set and later stayed.
Wallace added that Andrews - who along with executed Pierre Dale Selby murdered three people in Ogden's Hi Fi shop and maimed two others by such torture as making them drink drain cleaner - has not been a model prisoner since then either.
"He speared a guard with a metal-pointed broom handle. It hit him in the cheek and caused him to bleed. He needed stitches. The next day he (Andrews) was overheard being asked, `Why didn't you hit him in the adam's apple.' He said, `I was aiming for his temple.' "
Wallace added that escape devices have been found on Andrews several times.
"He had a shank and a hacksaw blade in a toothpaste tube. He had a paper clip fashioned like a pin for (unlocking) handcuffs when they transported him to Ogden for a hearing.
"He had hair accumulated in his cell. What they do with hair is they glue it to a ball of some kind. It looks like a head in the bed so it gives them more time if they do escape," Wallace said.
Hatch concluded, "The case for restricting the current unrestrained, virtually unlimited availability of federal court review of state convictions is so overwhelming that Congress should act immediately to pass this legislation."