Utah inmate facing firing squad dies of natural causes

Ron Lafferty, who was months away from execution, killed sister-in-law and her baby daughter in 1984

David Boroff
New York Daily News

DRAPER, Utah — A death row inmate in Utah who was scheduled to become the first American executed by firing squad in nine years has passed away in prison.

Ron Lafferty was believed to be just months away from being put to death when he died of natural causes at the Draper facility on Monday.

He and his brother killed sister-in-law Brenda Lafferty and her baby daughter Erica in 1984. Ron Lafferty claimed he received a revelation from God to commit the murders because of the sister-in-law's resistance to his fundamentalist Mormon beliefs in polygamy. Brother Daniel Lafferty is serving a life sentence.

"Our family is grateful for all of the efforts of everyone involved in this case. We are grateful that it is done," Brenda Lafferty's sister Sharon Wright Weeks told TV station Fox 13 in a text message.

The convicted killer was featured in Jon Krakauer's 2003 book "Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith." The book focused on isolated Mormon Fundamentalist communities.

An appeals court rejected Lafferty's latest appeal earlier this year.

Lafferty, who was 78, chose the option to be killed by firing squad before Utah changed its law about executions. A firing squad is usually only a backup if lethal injection drugs are not available.

The last firing squad execution in the U.S. took place in Utah in 2010 when killer Ronnie Lee Gardner was put to death.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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