The Justice Files: 10th Circuit Court denies latest Ron Lafferty appeal


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Ron Lafferty’s latest attempt to save his own life was denied.

The latest denial comes from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals which puts him one step closer to his execution.

In 1984, Lafferty claimed to have a divine revelation to murder his own sister-in-law Brenda Lafferty and her child. His brother Dan, also was convicted of the double murders.

“(10th Circuit Court of Appeals) essentially declared that jurisdiction has been extinguished in all federal courts,” said Andrew Peterson, assistant solicitor general for the Attorney General.

For Ron Lafferty, the end is near. Technically, he’s been on death row since 1985.

Ron and his brother Dan Lafferty were members of the School of Prophets, a spinoff of fundamentalist Mormonism.

Dan Lafferty was convicted of the murders but is serving a life sentence when the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision.

Meanwhile, a different jury ordered Ron’s execution in 1985. It was appealed and eventually, another jury reached the same conclusion eleven years later.

Thirty-five years later, Brenda Lafferty’s sister is still waiting.

“It just seems like nothing was ever going to happen and I still wonder if it will even be in my lifetime,” Brenda McEntire told ABC4 in August.

But Lafferty is running out of time. He’s nearly exhausted all of his appeals.

On October 17th, the 10th Circuit closed the door on Lafferty once and for all.

Peterson said the ruling didn’t come as a surprise.

“Not at all,” he said. “The motion that Mr. Lafferty filed was frivolous on its face.”

As a result, he said there are no more reviews pending in state or federal court. The next move will come from the attorney general’s office.

“All federal jurisdiction has been extinguished,” he said again. “The state of Utah is now free to seek an execution warrant.”

But Peterson said they plan to wait. Last week in a filing with the 10th circuit court indicated they plan to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The move is to have the nation’s highest court review the actions of the circuit court.

Peterson doubts that will happen.

“Mr. Lafferty has indicated he will ask the United States Supreme Court to review his case, although he is more likely to be struck by lightning than to get a review in the Supreme Court given how obviously meritless his claims are,” Peterson said.

If the Supreme Court denies to review the case, Peterson said their office will make the final decision on seeking an execution warrant.


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