Death row inmate Ronald Lafferty dies of natural causes

Photo Courtesy: Utah Department of Corrections.

DRAPER, Utah, Nov. 11, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Ronald Lafferty, death row inmate at the Utah Department of Corrections, died of natural causes at the Utah State Prison in Draper Monday.

Lafferty was convicted by a jury of two counts of capital murder in 1985 and has spent the past 34 years on death row, according to a news release from the Utah Department of Corrections.

Ronald Lafferty and his younger brother, Dan, were charged for the homicides of their sister-in-law, Brenda Lafferty, and her 15-month-old daughter, Erica, which occurred on Pioneer Day, July 24, 1984.

Ronald Lafferty, a self-proclaimed prophet, claimed to have received a revelation from God in which he was instructed to “remove” several people including the two victims.

At the conclusion of competency evaluations, and while incarcerated in the Utah County Jail, Ronald Lafferty attempted suicide in December 1984, Wikipedia said. This resulted in severe injury and mental damages. Following the suicide attempt, he was held at the Utah State Hospital for several months.

Dan Lafferty represented himself during his trial, although he had access to the standby counsel. The jury trial resulted in a guilty verdict, and he was sentenced to five years to life. The case was appealed to the Utah Supreme Court, which upheld his conviction.

Ronald Lafferty was found competent to stand trial by doctors at the Utah State Hospital. He was tried in 1985, convicted and sentenced to death. The penalty was upheld after an appeal to the Utah Supreme Court. The United States Supreme Court rejected a further appeal.

The U.S. District Court for Utah upheld the conviction, however the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s verdict and reversed the conviction, finding that the state and the lower court judge had committed error in finding Ronald Lafferty competent to stand trial. The state of Utah filed an appeal with the United States Supreme Court. It was turned down.

Lafferty was remanded to the Fourth District Court for Utah so he could undergo competency proceedings, was found incompetent to stand trial and sent to the Utah State Hospital for treatment.

Three years later, a court found that his competency was “restored” and in 1996 he was retried for the crimes. After a three-week trial, he was found guilty of a capital offense. Further appeals to the Supreme Court of Utah and the U.S. Supreme Court were denied.

Lafferty elected to be executed by firing squad, prior to him dying of natural causes.


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