A 4th District judge Friday sentenced a defiant and foul-mouthed Ronald W. Lafferty to death by firing squad June 24 for the July 24, 1984, murder of his sister-in-law and niece.
Lafferty's defense attorneys, whom Lafferty dismissed Thursday, said they have no idea whether the self-proclaimed prophet plans to pursue appeals. Defense attorney Michael Esplin said Lafferty plans only to ask him and co-counsel Gary Weight for advice."This is it for us. We're through with it," Esplin said.
Lafferty, whose first execution date was automatically appealed under state law, defiantly told Judge Boyd L. Park, "As far as I'm concerned, you missed your chance. Play your little silly (expletive deleted) game. I've never seen so much (expletive deleted) in my life."
After Lafferty rejected lethal injection as his means of execution, the court chose the firing squad.
"What's this for, anyway?" Lafferty asked Park. Park reminded Lafferty he had been convicted of murdering his sister-in-law, Brenda Lafferty, and her 15-month-old daughter, Erica. The victims were found with their throats slashed, a crime Lafferty has claimed was ordered by God.
"He has to decide what to do," Esplin said. "We'll have to discuss that with him. I don't know what he wants to do, but he's obviously frustrated with the system."
Esplin said Lafferty will need legal help if he plans to pursue appeals. The attorney said he doesn't believe Lafferty can competently proceed, a fact he said was apparent during Friday's hearing when Lafferty claimed double jeopardy regarding the resetting of his execution date.
Under law, double jeaopardy prevents a defendant form being tried twice for the same crime and has nothing to do with the appeals process following capital homicide convictions.
Attorneys said they plan to meet with Lafferty over the weekend to discuss his options. Esplin said he will encourage Lafferty to file a writ of certiorari (review) with the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Lafferty's competency during his 1985 trial.
" I see some determination (for the writ) from the original competency hearings," Esplin said. He said Lafferty was found competent to stand trial but was not allowed to represent himself. Esplin said he doubts Lafferty will raise the competency issue.
"There are things he would not raise that should be raised," he said.
Esplin said Lafferty has until June 24 to file an appeal for stay of execution. In February, the Utah Supreme Court upheld Lafferty's conviction and dissolved a stay of execution following a mandatory review of his trial.