Attorneys for death row inmate Ronald Lafferty have asked the Utah Supreme Court to review the complete court transcript of Lafferty's 1985 murder trial.
In June, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene stayed Lafferty's June 24th execution date after determining that the state court did not have access to a complete transcript of the case when it denied Laf-ferty's appeal in January. He also said he could not rule on the case without the full transcript.Following a Sept. 28 hearing, Greene gave Lafferty's attorneys, Michael Esplin and Gary Weight, seven days to file the petition for review. He put Lafferty's federal appeal on hold pending the state court's action on the petition, which was filed Thursday.
The Utah Supreme Court has not set a date to consider the matter.
Lafferty, 46, a self-proclaimed prophet and polygamy advocate, was sentenced to death for the July 24, 1984, throat-slashing deaths of his sister-in-law, Brenda Wright Lafferty, and her 15-month-old daughter, Erica, at their American Fork home.
At last week's hearing, Weight argued that Lafferty could not receive due process if the court does not have a chance to look at the complete court record.
He said he is particularly concerned that the court be aware of the difficulties that defense attorney Richard Johnson faced during the trial because of Lafferty's desire to represent himself.
The 550 pages of previously missing transcripts would show there were several instances where Johnson and Lafferty disagreed on how to proceed with the case and the trial judge favored Laffery's view, Weight said. The defense has argued that this made it impossible for Johnson to adequately defend Lafferty.
But Deputy Utah Attorney General Sandra Sjogren argued that the defense had failed to show specific instances where the new material may have had a bearing on the state court's decision.
The appeal contends Lafferty was incompetent to assist his attorney at trial and incompetent to stand trial; that he was wrongly denied a change of venue; that he was not allowed to present a defense of insanity; and that jurors were shown inflammatory photographs of the victims.