Utah parole board grants commutation hearing to Honie

Posted at 5:15 PM, Jun 28, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Board of Pardons & Parole has granted a commutation hearing for condemned killer Taberon Honie.

The hearing, where the board will decide whether to convert his death sentence to life in prison, will take place in July.

"This pivotal step underscores the Board’s commitment to fairness, justice, and integrity within Utah’s criminal justice system," said Jennifer Yim, administrative director at the Board, said in a statement.

At the hearing, Honie can present testimony and offer arguments why his death sentence should be commuted. The Utah Attorney General's Office can also offer rebuttal testimony and arguments of why he should be executed.

Honie is scheduled to die by lethal injection on August 8 for the 1998 murder of Claudia Benn, who was his ex-girlfriend's mother. Prosecutors in Cedar City said Honie broke into her house, slit her throat and sexually assaulted her with a knife while her grandchildren were there.

Honie has exhausted his post-conviction appeals, but is still fighting a death sentence. His lawyers are now challenging a unique cocktail of drugs the state intends to use to put him to death: ketamine, fentanyl and potassium chloride. Such a combination has not been used before.

Court documents obtained by FOX 13 News on Friday show the Utah Supreme Court has signaled interest in hearing a petition challenging that drug cocktail. It set deadlines for responses to filings by Honie's lawyers, but the state's top court has yet to schedule any arguments in the case.