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Thread: Ralph Leroy Menzies - Utah Death Row

  1. #1
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    Oct 2010

    Ralph Leroy Menzies - Utah Death Row

    Maurine Hunsaker

    Summary of Offense:

    Sentenced on November 18, 1988 for the kidnapping and strangulation of a Kearns woman, Maurine Hunsaker, in 1986. He has selected death by firing squad.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    July 10, 2010

    Death row inmate asks for another delay

    Death row inmate Ralph Menzies wants more time.

    Today his new attorney asked for a 4 month extension before all motions have to be filed. The judge had set an August 15th deadline. But the attorney says he's new to the case and can't be ready in time.

    Ralph Menzies was convicted in the murder of Maurine Hunsaker in 1986.

    Her family hopes the extension is denied. Matt Hunsaker, the victim's son said, "The defenses comments are 'oh it's just 4 more months.' Well for us 4 more months is going to turn into 6 months, 8 months, to 10 months. We don't know what closure is. We've never come to that point where we were going to get closure."

    Menzies has been on death row for over 24 years. That's cost tax payers $540,000 just to house him all this time, that doesn't include other costs like public defenders.

    The judge says he'll rule on today's motion sometime in the next few weeks.

    (Source: ABC News)

  3. #3
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Family of murdered woman loses hope for justice

    Matt Hunsaker has not missed a single court hearing in the nearly 26 years since his mother's murder. Wednesday was no different.

    Attorneys for the man sentenced to die in connection with Maurine Hunsaker's death Ralph Leroy Menzies and attorneys for the state argued before 3rd District Judge Bruce Lubeck Wednesday over whether Menzies has a right to a new hearing on the evidence in his case.

    But attorney Brandon Simmons made it clear what Hunsaker's family wants.

    "The victim's family continues to oppose any unnecessary delays," he said. "It's been 25 years, 10 months and 26 days since Maurine Hunsaker was killed."

    On Feb. 23, 1986, Menzies kidnapped 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 death for the murder.

    In 2007, the Utah Supreme Court ruled Menzies had ineffective counsel during his post conviction appeal, initially filed in 1995, and determined Menzies could start his appeal over again.

    Menzies' attorney, Theodore Weckel, argued that he wants to interview Menzies' trial attorney on strategy as well as someone who said he saw a man he later identified as Menzies in Storm Canyon on Feb. 23. The attorney asked for either time to take depositions or an evidentiary hearing in which he could put the individuals on the witness stand.

    He said this would allow for a more complete record in the case.

    "Let's do it right before it's remanded again," Weckel urged Lubeck.

    Thomas Brunker, who heads the capital appeals division in the Utah Attorney General's Office, argued that the information from those witnesses "is not going to be legally significant." He said the judge should first determine whether the facts alleged by Menzies' attorneys are sufficient before they're heard in court.

    Lubeck took the matter under advisement. He said he would hand down a written ruling "as soon as I can."

    Matt Hunsaker called the whole thing "frivolous" and said defense attorneys are searching for a "needle in a haystack." Still, he said the family is used to sitting in hearings with no conclusions.

    "We're not surprised," he said. "It is what it is. The family's taken a different look at it now, but what's going to come of it? My family has lost hope."

    That said, Hunsaker said he has no doubt that Menzies is the one responsible for his mother's death.

    "The evidence is there," he said. "You heard it today not a thing about valid claims of innocence."

    Brunker said the arguments Menzies' attorneys are making aren't sufficient to warrant a days-long hearing for the man.

    "Part of what it's about is how long this has already taken," Brunker said. "For the purposes of the state of Utah and the victim, it has been unnecessarily long."

    He said that the appeal was originally filed in 1995. Brunker estimated that the death row inmate has had a total of 15 attorneys from the time of his trial to the present.


  4. #4
    Passed away.
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    The Phog
    Menzies is one of the few inmates featured on Lockup that gives me the willys.

  5. #5
    Administrator Jan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Death Row Inmate Ralph Menzies Loses Lengthy battle Over Conviction and Senetence

    A convicted killer has lost a 17 year legal battle over his conviction and death sentence but Ralph Menzies still has more options to try and postpone his execution date. Third District Judge Bruce Lubeck signed the order denying post-conviction relief on March 23, more than 26 years after Menzies robbed, kidnapped, and murdered Maurine Hunsaker.

    Menzies was convicted by a jury and the judge sentenced him to death in 1988. The Utah Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and sentence in 1994 and denied review of the case in 1995. The Utah Attorney General’s Office has spent the last 17 years fighting against Menzies’ claim he had ineffective legal representation.

    Assistant Attorney General Thomas Brunker said, “We are pleased with the outcome and optimistic this case will now move forward with greater speed. We have argued and maintain that Menzies had excellent representation by highly skilled attorneys both at trial and on direct appeal. Even though the most skilled attorneys sometimes make mistakes, that did not happen.”

    On February 23,1986, Menzies abducted Hunsaker from her job at a gas station. After holding her for about twelve hours, Menzies drove her to the Storm Mountain picnic area in Big Cottonwood Canyon, tied her to a tree, strangled her and slit her throat.

    Menzies claimed his attorneys were inadequate during the trial and said the defense guilt phase theory was “stupid,” idiotic,” and “wholly speculative.” But Judge Lubeck ruled that Menzies’ trial attorneys “vigorously sought a sentence other than death” and that their theory was “far, far superior and extremely reasonable” compared to the one now being offered. “Trial counsel did not render ineffective assistance,” concluded Judge Lubeck.

    The case now moves to the Utah Supreme Court for the fourth review of Menzies’ conviction and sentence. He can also pursue relief in federal court. A copy of the judge’s ruling is available upon request.


  6. #6
    Senior Member Member Jeffects's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    Southern California
    Maurine Hunsaker

    Maurine was a beautiful 26-year-old mother of three children (ages 10 years, 15 months and six months old) working the night shift at a gas station in Kearns, Utah when she was robbed and kidnapped. She was allowed to call her husband Michael at about 11 p.m. that night and told him she had been abducted and robbed but was expecting to be released. Her body was found two days later tied to a tree near the Storm Mountain picnic area in Big Cottonwood Canyon. She had been strangled and her throat had been slashed from ear to ear.


    She was...


    (Photo is of Matt, who was 10 years old at time of murder, holding his mother's picture).


    I'll be happy when you're dead, Ralph.
    Last edited by Jeffects; 04-02-2012 at 05:27 PM.

  7. #7
    Administrator Michael's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    "Stupid" and "idiotic" was his crime. He should keep his mouth shut. These criminals are so annoying. I hope he gets his date really soon.
    No murder can be so cruel that there are not still useful imbeciles who do gloss over the murderer and apologize.

  8. #8
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Utah Supreme Court rejects appeal by death row inmate

    SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court has rejected the latest appeal from death row inmate Ralph Leroy Menzies.

    "None of Mr. Menzies' claims have merit. We reject each of his constitutional challenges," the state's high court wrote in its ruling released Tuesday.

    Menzies made numerous claims in his latest appeal to the Supreme Court, including that the appeals courts erred in rejecting several of his motions, as well as claims that his former counsel provided ineffective assistance, including at trial, sentencing, and on appeal.

    "We reject each of Mr. Menzies' claims and affirm the (post conviction court's) order dismissing his Fifth Amended Petition," the court wrote.

    This is the second post-conviction appeal the Utah Supreme Court has considered from Menzies in addition to hearing two direct appeals during his trials.

    Menzies has been on Utah's death row for 26 years.

    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 death for the murder in 1988.

    The Utah Supreme Court upheld Menzies' conviction and sentence in 1994. But in 2007, it ruled he had ineffective counsel for his first post-conviction appeal filed in 1995 and said he could start that appeal over again.

    With this latest decision by the state's high court, Tom Brunker, the Utah attorney general's capital appeals division chief, said this round of appeals can finally be put to rest.

    "I'm glad that this stage has come to a close finally. This stage has been in litigation since 1995," he said. "I'm just happy this stage has finally come to an end and this case can finally move forward."

    The appeals process will now move into federal court. Menzies filed a federal habeas corpus petition in 2007, making the same kinds of claims of ineffective assistance, Brunker said. But that case has been stayed pending the outcome of the Utah Supreme Court's decision. Brunker anticipates the stay will now be lifted and that appeal will move forward.

    When asked how much longer Menzies case could stay in the court system before he exhausts all of his appeals, Brunker noted that the last two death row cases that went to federal court — Ronnie Lee Gardner and Douglas Carter — each took 10 years.

    "It's hard to predict from the past what will happen in present and future cases. But it's not going to be tomorrow. Let me put it this way, we will not be applying for an execution warrant based on this decision," Brunker said, while also recognizing it's been 28 years since Hunsaker was murdered.

    "It is a long time, and it is too long. And we're doing what we can to try and speed it up. Not just in this case but in all of them," he said.


  9. #9
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Utah death row inmate asks U.S. Supreme Court to hear appeal of ‘86 murder case

    The Salt Lake Tribune

    Convicted Utah killer Ralph Leroy Menzies is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider an appeal of his 30-year-old murder case, claiming the most recent state court rulings wrongly deny him his rights.

    An attorney for Menzies filed the petition with the nation's high court on May 7. It asks justices to overturn a September 2014 Utah Supreme Court ruling that found Menzies' multiple claims of ineffective assistance at trial, sentencing and on appeal were unfounded. Utah's court also denied a petition for a rehearing of the case in February.

    The petition claims the decision by Utah's highest court appeared to be "result driven" and says justices misapplied the legal standards in finding that Menzies was effectively represented.

    "In doing so, the court eliminated [the defense attorneys'] obligation to make informed decisions, and to consult with one's client before deciding on a trial strategy," attorney Theodore Weckel wrote in his petition. "This is a particularly dangerous precedent, given that the case involves a death penalty case."

    The petition also asks the high court to consider whether the Utah court's 85-page opinion conflicts with the body of federal appeals court decisions which lay out the constitutional duties of defense attorneys to investigate claims of innocence and pursue a mental health defense when evidence of mental illness exists.

    Utah plans to file a response to the petition and has 30 days to do so. On Wednesday, however, Assistant Utah Attorney General Thomas Brunker, who handles death penalty cases, said he had not yet seen the petition and could not comment on its claims.

    It wasn't immediately clear whether the U.S. Supreme Court would hear the case. If justices elect to do so and rule in Menzies' favor, the death row inmate could get a new trial or a new sentencing hearing, Weckel said Wednesday.

    Menzies, 57, was convicted by a jury in 1988 and sentenced to die for the 1986 kidnapping and slaying of Maurine Hunsaker, a 26-year-old mother of three.

    Menzies has maintained his innocence over the years. In all, the Utah Supreme Court has rejected four separate appeals from Menzies, who may remain years from execution as an appeal of the case in Salt Lake City's federal district court also is under way.

    In his petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, Weckel argues that Menzies' defense team failed to investigate whether his claims of actual innocence were supported by any facts.

    The attorneys — Joan Watt, Francis Palacios and Brooke Wells, who is now a federal magistrate judge — failed to pursue a mental health defense after two psychologists diagnosed Menzies with multiple mental illnesses and said he suffered from organic brain damage.

    One psychologist said Menzies may have continued his claim of innocence because he had suffered an "amnestic episode" and could not remember killing Hunsaker.

    Weckel claims a mental health defense might have resulted in lesser charges or removed the death penalty as a punishment for Menzies during his trial.

    State attorneys have disputed that claim and many of the others raised in the petition in court papers filed throughout the 27 years of Menzies' appeals.

    That includes the contention that Menzies' defense team was not trained to conduct mitigation work and failed to begin until after his conviction — one week before sentencing.

    In its ruling last year, the Utah Supreme Court said none of those claims had merit.


  10. #10
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    In today's orders, the United States Supreme Court declined to review Menzies' petition for certiorari.

    Lower Ct: Supreme Court of Utah
    Case Nos.: (20120290)
    Decision Date: September 23, 2014
    Rehearing Denied: February 12, 2015


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