A defense attorney for convicted murderer Ronald W. Lafferty says he will file a notice of a new appeal this week, thus ending speculation that Lafferty had decided to end his fight for life and accept his death sentence.
Gary Weight, one of Lafferty's defense attorneys, said Saturday that he plans to file a notice of intent to appeal with the Utah Supreme Court sometime next week. He said filing the notice should bring another stay of execution.In February, the Utah Supreme Court rejected Lafferty's appeal and dissolved the stay of execution on his death penalty. Lafferty has until May 18 to file further appeals, but prosecutors in the Utah attorney general's office had speculated that the silence of Lafferty's attorneys might mean Lafferty had opted not to pursue further appeals.
Assistant Attorney General Sandra Sjogren said, absent some further stay, she was treating the case as though the execution would go ahead. In fact Utah County prosecutors were scheduled to appear Friday in 4th District Court to request a new death warrant.
But Weight said Lafferty intends to pursue his appeals. He said the next step will be a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will rest primarily on whether Lafferty was competent at the time he was tried.
"There was evidence from three psychiatrists who found him not competent to stand trial," Weight said. "There was only evidence by one psychiatrist who had not personally interviewed him (Lafferty) who said he was competent."
Lafferty, a self-proclaimed prophet, said God told him to murder his sister-in-law, Brenda Lafferty, and her 15-month-old daughter, Erica, on July 24, 1984. Lafferty's brother, Dan, was also convicted and was sentenced to life in prison.