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Thread: Ralph Leroy Menzies - Utah Death Row

  1. #11
    Moderator Ryan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Newport, United Kingdom
    October 13, 2015

    U.S. Supreme Court rejects appeal from Utah death row inmate Menzies

    The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a death row inmate convicted in the brutal killing of a woman 29 years ago.

    The justices denied the claim brought by 57-year-old Ralph Leroy Menzies. He asked them to overturn a ruling by the Utah Supreme Court that found no merit to claims, including ineffective representation by past attorneys.

    Menzies is still appealing his case in federal court and likely years away from any execution date.

    Authorities say Menzies kidnapped Maurine Hunsaker from her gas station job in 1986 and drove her to a picnic area where he tied her to a tree, strangled her and slit her throat.

    He was convicted by a jury in 1988. He has always maintained his innocence.

    His lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.


  2. #12
    Moderator Ryan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Newport, United Kingdom
    Firing squads to be used in upcoming Utah executions

    As Arkansas rushes to execute several death row inmates due to execution drugs expiring soon, an even more macabre immorality is developing in Utah: 3 death row inmates have all elected to be killed by firing squad, a method that's still on the books as a sort of next resort if execution drugs are unable to be obtained in the appropriate amount of time.

    As manufacturers of propofol and other execution drugs refuse to sell to states as a stand against the death penalty, death by lethal injection becomes more difficult to pull off.

    Utah's execution methods are actually quite complicated: in 2004, death by firing squad was overturned, as the Utah legislature cited the amount of attention drawn as creating difficulty for the affected families. Then, in 2015, this was partially changed.

    Now, if execution drugs are in short supply, firing squads can be used as a backup method. Furthermore, those sentenced to death before 2004 are grandfathered and can decide their execution method, if they so choose, according to the options available at the time of sentencing.

    Taberon Dave Honie, Troy Michael Kell, and Ralph Leroy Menzies are all current death row inmates who have elected to die by firing squad. Although execution dates have not been set, many of them have been imprisoned for several decades.

    Convicted of heinous murders and rapes, these 3 men seem to have inflicted horrible pain on others. Still, why should we kill at all? Our justice system has overwhelming flaws, from lack of proper indigent defense to tainted appeals processes. It's crazy for us to openly acknowledge the error in the system and still put people to death. We need to stop pretending this is what dispensing justice looks like.

    MuckRock recently obtained the Utah Department of Corrections' execution manual, detailing protocols currently in place. On the issue of government transparency, it's unbelievable that such a document wasn't public in the first place, but had to be obtained via FOIA request. Such a request was initially denied in 2015, but recently released.

    The details outlined are grotesque, but the unfortunate standard in many states: 2 rounds must be loaded into each weapon, with 1 weapon shooting blanks. A target should be placed over the heart of the one being executed. There are countdowns and waiting periods and the last words are supposed to be recorded via audio, then destroyed within 24 hours of the execution. One can't help but think that if information like this were made more public, fewer people would be able to stomach the horror of the death penalty.

    Some believe firing squads are more humane as lethal injection has been scrutinized due to the high prevalence of botched executions. Others argue that firing squads disallow us to be detached from the real matter at hand: the taking of a human life. For this reason, some death penalty abolitionists see firing squads as the easiest way of changing public opinion. The gruesome nature of firing squads reminds us that execution isn't some sanitized, near-medical procedure done by a phlebotomist in a dimmed room, but rather the killing of a human being.

    Many scholars and activists think the recent controversy in Arkansas is bringing legal issues with the death penalty to light, exposing procedural problems and leaving pits in the bottoms of people's stomachs as they begin to realize what the death penalty looks like up close. Hopefully, as Utah's firing squads are examined further, people will begin to realize that our repugnant idea of justice needs to be reformed.


  3. #13
    Administrator Aaron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    New Jersey
    Court denies petition of inmate who has been on Utah's death row for 30 years

    SALT LAKE CITY — A federal court on Friday denied a petition against the state from a man who has been on Utah's death row for 30 years.

    More than 15 years after it was first filed, 10th Circuit Court Judge Claire V. Eagan denied Ralph Leroy Menzies' habeas corpus petition.

    "The Constitution was followed and Utah's criminal justice system worked," is what Andrew Peterson, who handled the appeal for the Utah Attorney General's Office, said was the takeaway from Friday's decision.

    The judge concluded in a lengthy 155-page ruling that Menzies' conviction and sentence did not violate the Constitution, said Peterson.

    "It is a significant milestone that brings the case closer to conclusion," he said.

    On Feb. 23, 1986, Menzies kidnapped Maurine Hunsaker from a convenience store in Kearns, took her to Storm Mountain in Big Cottonwood Canyon, tied her to a tree, strangled her and slit her throat. He was convicted and sentenced to die for the murder in 1988. Menzies is eligible for execution by firing squad because his case is grandfathered under Utah's old law.

    The Utah Supreme Court upheld Menzies' conviction and sentence in 1994. But Menzies filed a habeas corpus petition in 2003 claiming he had ineffective counsel.

    Because of the type of petition Menzies filed, he is not entitled to automatically appeal every point to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. A judge has to give him permission. In this case, Peterson said Eagan has allowed Menzies to appeal just five of the 43 issues he raised.

    "The judge dramatically narrowed what Menzies can appeal," he said.

    Although the proceedings in district court began in 2003, Peterson said the next step in the process, should Menzies take it, is an appeal to the 10th Circuit Court that wouldn't take nearly as long.

    "You can't get rich in politics unless you're a crook." - Harry Truman

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