A Utah death row inmate who was wanted on death row after being convicted of killing his daughter-in-law and her young daughter because of his strong polygamist beliefs has died of natural causes in the prison, corrections officials said today.
Ron Lafrith has died at Draper State Prison, a suburb of Salt Lake City, a Utah Department of Corrections spokeswoman said. The 78-year-old was sentenced to death in 1985 for killing his brother's wife and young child for her resistance to polygamy.
The killings were the basis for John Krakauer's 2003 book "Under the Banner of Heaven" A Tale of Violent Faith.
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Lafrith claims to have killed the two for revelation from God. His brother, Dan, 71, received a life sentence for involvement in the killings.
On July 24, 1984, Brenda Lafrete was beaten and struck with a vacuum cord in her York apartment. She and her 15-month-old daughter Erica cut their throats.
Alain Lafrete discovered his wife in a pool of blood and their daughter near her crib.
Ron and Dan Lafritt believed that their daughter-in-law's refusal to join the School of Prophets interfered with the "divine" plan that required the participation of all six Laffert brothers, Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Airi found Ron Lafretti guilty and sentenced him to death. He was re-sentenced and sentenced to death again in 1996 after a federal appeals court overturned the verdict because the judge used an incorrect standard to determine that he was fit to stand trial.
At the time, Utah death row inmates were allowed to choose their preferred method of execution. Lafrey chose a firing team. The state later changed the law to use firing squads only as a reserve for lethal injections.
Ronnie Lee Gardner was the last prisoner to die in the United States with the shooting of the team in 2010. Utah authorities executed him after he was convicted of killing a lawyer during a failed run in the courtroom.
The state attorney general predicted that Lafferty would be executed in 2020.