UTAH COUNTY– Ron Lafferty, a Utah State prisoner of over 30 years, was pronounced dead from natural causes yesterday. His case was unique to the state due to his choice in execution — death by firing squad.
Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah are the only three states in the country that have execution by firing squad as an option for death row inmates, with lethal injection as the primary method.
Death by firing squad was voted out of state in 2004 but was reinstated as a means of execution in early 2015. Ronald Watson Lafferty was one of seven inmates on death row as of August this year, three of which have chosen the firing squad for their execution.
In 2015, House bill 11 was voted in and approved by Governor Herbert. This bill allows the state to use a firing squad if the drug cocktail necessary for lethal injection is not available at least 30 days before a scheduled execution.
Lafferty, the 78-year-old cold killer of two, first entered Utah State Prison in 1985 with his brother Daniel Charles Lafferty, both convicted of the first degree, barbaric murder that killed their sister-in-law and infant daughter. Lafferty claimed to have received revelation from God to commit this murder.
The two were to go on trial together but Ron tried to hang himself to death in jail as well as attempted to kill his brother, resulting in the separation of their trials.
In 1996, Lafferty’s conviction was overturned on appeal and a new trial was held. The jury again convicted him and sentenced him to death.
Lafferty recently moved to the holding facility containing the infirmary where we speculate he died Monday morning. His execution by firing squad was set for next year and would mark the first execution by firing squad of this decade. His brother Daniel is still in prison serving a life-long sentence.