SALT LAKE CITY — After more than an hour of public comment and deliberation Tuesday, a committee voted 6-5 to send a proposal to repeal the death penalty to the full House.
The sponsor of SB189, Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, gave the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee three reasons to repeal the death penalty: the cost of execution, the pain victims' families experience, and the attention given to murderers.
Multiple family members of victims of death row inmates spoke out at the hearing — both for and against the bill. Some argued they needed the finality of the death penalty to move on from the tragedy in their lives. Others said the long trial process to secure a death sentence was cruel and brought them more pain than a life without parole sentence would have.
Randy Gardner, the brother of Ronnie Lee Gardner, the most recent death row inmate to be executed in Utah, spoke against the death penalty and attempted to show the committee autopsy photos of his brother.
Committee Chairman Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Santaquin, asked Gardner to keep the photos to himself.
The Catholic Diocese spoke in support of the bill, while the Eagle Forum expressed opposition.