Self-proclaimed prophet Ronald Watson Lafferty is going back to the Utah Supreme Court to argue once again that he did not receive a fair trial when he was convicted of the July 24, 1984, murder of his sister-in-law and niece, Brenda and Erica Lafferty, on July 24, 1984.
U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene ruled Wednesday that Lafferty will have seven days to file a petition alleging the court's earlier ruling was in error because it did not have 550 pages of case transcripts.The recently prepared transcripts cover such matters as Lafferty's problems with defending himself and may have a bearing on whether he was competent in the trial.
His lawyers, Michael D. Esplin and Gary H. Weight, contend he could not get effective assistance of his lawyer during the trial because the judge allowed Lafferty to overrule the lawyer on such questions as raising an insanity defense.
Weight said that because the Supreme Court made its ruling on the basis of an incomplete record, "We cannot presume the state court decision was correct."
Sandra J. Sjogren, assistant Utah attorney general, said Weight has not said there is any specific material in the previously missing transcripts that would cause the Supreme Court to come to a different conclusion.
But Greene ruled that the highest state court should have the opportunity of deciding whether it wants to take another look.