A federal appeals court pushed Ron Lafferty, who is on Utah’s death row for the 1984 murder of his sister-in-law and niece, much closer to a firing squad by denying his latest appeal. Lafferty, 78, can appeal the latest decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but “It’s incredibly unlikely they will review this case,” said Andrew Peterson of the Utah Attorney Generals’s office, “and if they don’t, we’re talking months” until Lafferty is executed, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Utah has not executed an inmate since a firing squad shot Ronnie Lee Gardner to death in 2010. The state has eight inmates on its death row. Monday’s ruling makes Lafferty the closest of them to being executed.
State law gives Lafferty the choice between death by lethal injection or firing squad. Lafferty has said in court proceedings he wants the latter. In 2004, the Utah Legislature ended the firing squad option, except for inmates who had already been sentenced to die and had selected that method. Then, in 2015, the legislature added firing squads again, but only if courts determine Utah does not have the cocktail of drugs needed to execute an inmate by lethal injection.