Death row inmate Ron Lafferty wants some of his appeals put on hold

Posted at 9:05 AM, Jul 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-14 11:05:20-04

SALT LAKE CITY — In a new court filing, condemned killer Ron Lafferty is asking a federal judge to put some of his appeals on hold.

The filing, obtained by FOX 13, asks a judge to halt Lafferty’s federal appeals while the death row inmate exhausts other claims in state court. Among his claims, that evidence in the high-profile murder case was mishandled.

“The drape from Brenda Lafferty’s kitchen was recognized by the State as evidence of forensic value and was subjected to examination and testing,” his lawyers wrote. “Notes from the forensic examiner, Martha Kerr, indicate that ‘suspect poss. wiped hands or weapon on’ the drape and that it was ‘covered w blood.’ The drape was used as evidence in both of Lafferty’s trials. Between the two trials, however, the condition of the drape was altered, portions of the drape were removed and either lost or destroyed, and it was mishandled in a way that compromised its evidentiary value. ”

Ron Lafferty (image provided by the Utah Dept. of Corrections)

Ron Lafferty (image provided by the Utah Dept. of Corrections)

Lafferty’s defense attorneys claim that alone violated his right to due process. They also raise claims of ineffective assistance from his prior attorneys, including claiming they “failed to bring Lafferty’s intent to exercise his right to self-representation to the trial court” and problems with the jury including “religious bias.” The defense also claims the state’s methods of execution — lethal injection and firing squad — violate the Eighth Amendment of cruel and unusual punishment.

A federal judge recently ruled that Lafferty’s appeals may not have been exhausted as the Utah Attorney General’s Office has claimed.

Lafferty was sentenced to death for the 1984 murders of his sister-in-law, Brenda Lafferty, and her baby daughter, Erica, whose throats were slit. Ron Lafferty and his brother, Dan, were convicted of the gruesome slayings, claiming they were directed to kill by God.

The pair were featured in the best-selling book, “Under the Banner of Heaven.”

Read Lafferty’s filing here: