The way is clear for Hi Fi Shop killer William Andrews to be executed within three months with one big proviso, a state prosecutor says.
That proviso, said Associate Deputy Attorney General Paul M. Warner, has to do with a parallel appeal filed by Andrews' attorney that is now pending before the Utah Supreme Court.The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to rehear Andrews' case, moving the killer a step closer to execution.
"This week, we'll file appropriate pleadings with (Federal Judge David K.) Winder and have the stay of execution lifted," said Warner. "That will probably take a couple weeks for a hearing."
Assuming the stay is lifted, prosecutors will return to 2nd District Judge John Wahlquist for a new execution date, which would be set within 30-60 days. That puts the execution date sometime in June or July nearly a year after Andrews' accomplice, Pierre Dale Selby, was executed by lethal injection on Aug. 28.
But Warner said there is one big "if" in that scenario. Andrews' attorney, Timothy K. Ford, filed a parallel appeal in 3rd District Court saying Andrews' original trial attorney was incompetent. Judge David Young rejected that argument, but Ford appealed to the Utah Supreme Court, which recently rejected a state motion for summary judgment on that issue. The justices decided a full hearing is needed, which will take more time.
Warner said Ford will almost certainly ask the Utah Supreme Court to enter another stay until that issue is resolved. But he doesn't think the justices will delay the execution date.
"We don't anticipate any undue problems," Warner said. "We think it's going to go similar to Selby."
And, in the absence of some sort of stay, prosecutors will proceed on the assumption that the execution is on.
Ford, who lives in Seattle, could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
U.S. Supreme Court justices rejected Andrews' petition for a rehearing of their earlier refusal to overturn his Utah death sentence in the 1974 torture slayings of three people.
A jury convicted Andrews and Selby on three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated robbery in the slayings committed during a robbery of the Ogden Hi Fi Shop on April 22, 1974. The victims were forced to drink caustic drain cleaner and eventually shot to death.
Monday's Supreme Court ruling means the justices won't revisit their 7-2 decision on Feb. 29 not to review Andrews' death sentence.
In his appeal to the high court, Andrews claimed he was a victim of racial bias and that he did not actually kill anyone. In fact, Selby admitted during his Board of Pardons hearing that he fired the fatal shots. But prosecutors argued Andrews helped administer the drain cleaner, which itself could have proved fatal, and that Andrews could have stopped the killings and chose not to do so.
In addition to court appeals, Andrews will also likely request a hearing before the Utah Board of Pardons, which has the power to commute his sentence to life in prison. However, that procedure will be held during the 30-60 day period after the sentencing hearing and will non involve a stay of proceedings.