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Utah Supreme Court denies death row inmate's appeal

Published May 17, 2012 5:56 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Utah Supreme Court has denied a death row inmate's appeal in an opinion that could affect the cases of the eight other inmates set for execution.

Troy Michael Kell, convicted of stabbing a fellow inmate 67 times with a shank in 1994, argued his prior attorneys "wasted his post-conviction opportunity" to change his death sentence, according to the opinion.

Assistant Utah Attorney General Thomas Brunker said the 42-year-old Kell's opportunity to go back to that part of the case, which had already been decided and unsuccessfully appealed, was over. He called the filing an attempt to create a loophole in laws designed to limit litigation.

"They were trying to bootstrap it onto an older action in a way that could avoid those limitations," he said. The opinion " is very good for us."

Kell attorney David Christensen said they were "disappointed" in the ruling but hadn't yet decided whether they would appeal it in state court or go forward with the federal appeal.

After killing the inmate, Kell, then 26, yelled "white power" as he wiped the African-American victim's blood from his hands.

He still has a habeas corpus petition pending in federal court and his case will likely take years to decide, Brunker said.

Kell was serving two life sentences for the 1986 murder of a Canadian tourist in Las Vegas. He has said he wants to die by firing squad.

lwhitehurst@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lwhitehurst