'Devil worshiper' execution on hold
A judge has barred Utah officials from making any preparations to execute a self-proclaimed devil worshipper until federal appeals of his death sentence are completed.
U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell issued the routine order Monday in the case of Von Lester Taylor, who killed a woman and her mother in 1990.
The Office of the Federal Public Defender was appointed last month to represent the inmate and requested the stay.
Campbell's order came less than a week after the Utah Supreme Court handed Taylor a defeat.
On March 28, the high court refused to reconsider its January ruling that upheld a trial judge's rejection of Taylor's challenge of his death sentence.
The condemned man had argued that attorneys who previously handled his appeals missed legal claims that would have overturned his sentence. He claimed his lawyers should have conducted an investigation to identify mitigating factors, including possible brain damage.
The slayings occurred on Dec. 22, 1990, in Summit County. Taylor and Edward Steven Deli broke into a cabin in Oakley after escaping from a halfway house, opened Christmas presents they found there and waited for the occupants to return.
The escapees shot two of the first family members when they arrived - Kaye Tiede, 51, and her mother, Beth Harmon Tidwell Potts, 72. Tiede's 20-year-old daughter began praying as her mother and grandmother were being shot and Taylor told her to stop because he was a "devil worshipper," according to court records.
Tiede's husband and their 16-year-old daughter arrived next. Taylor shot Rolf Tiede twice, doused him in gasoline and set the cabin on fire.
He and Deli then drove away in the family car with the two daughters. Rolf Tiede was able to ride a snowmobile for help and the two men were arrested after a police chase.
Deli was found guilty of second-degree murder and is serving a life sentence. Taylor pleaded guilty to capital murder and a jury sentenced him to death.