Judge Denies Utah Death-row Challenge in High-Profile Case
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal judge is denying a death-row challenge from a Utah prison inmate whose double-murder case was chronicled in the book "Under the Banner of Heaven." U.S. District Judge Dee Benson entered the judgment Thursday in the case of Ron Lafferty. The ruling brings the 76-year-old Lafferty a step closer to execution by firing squad, though his lawyer, Dale Baich, said he plans to appeal. Lafferty was convicted and sentenced in the 1984 deaths of his sister-in-law and her baby daughter. He had claimed the killings carried out with his brother were directed by God because of the victim's resistance to his beliefs in polygamy. His lawyers had argued he was mentally ill, among other objections. But Benson sided with state experts who found he was fit for trial.