Convicted murderer Ronald W. Lafferty has decided after all to fight his June 24 date with death and is asking the attorneys he fired earlier this month for help in appealing his execution.
"He's made that decision," said attorney Michael Esplin.Lafferty fired Esplin and Gary Weight earlier this month, claiming he wanted to represent himself. The attorneys, however, have continued to counsel the self-proclaimed prophet since a 4th District judge sentenced him to die June 24 by firing squad for murdering his sister-in-law and niece July 24, 1984.
"It looks like he's authorized us to go ahead with an appeal," Esplin said, adding that he and Weight aren't being paid to help Lafferty. "We're representing him in a pro-bono situation. That's a freebie."
Last week Lafferty missed deadlines for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and for a commutation hearing before the Board of Pardons. The Utah Supreme Court recently rejected Lafferty's initial mandatory appeal. But he still has several legal options for fighting his execution, Esplin said, including further appeals with the U.S. Supreme Court.
If Lafferty's appeals on the state level are exhausted, then Esplin and Weight will look at options within the federal court system.
"We will file a stay of execution to allow the hearing of writs either in the federal courts or the state system," Esplin said. "We'll do whatever steps are necessary to have the proper reviews. We're trying to put something together this week."
Lafferty has said he would rather die than spend the rest of his life in prison, but he's also said he wasn't going to be executed without a fight.
Earlier this month, Esplin said he would consider requesting a mental competency hearing for Lafferty if the convicted killer did nothing to stop his execution. Lafferty, however, refuses to raise the issue of his competency, even though that issue was central to his initial appeal to the Utah Supreme Court.
In February, the state's Supreme Court upheld Lafferty's conviction and dissolved a previous stay of execution.