Inmate who killed Utah Highway Patrol trooper in 1978 granted parole

(Courtesy Utah Department of Corrections) Brian Keith Stack, who murdered a Utah Highway Patrol trooper in 1978, is scheduled to be paroled next year.

A man who murdered a Utah Highway Patrol trooper in 1978 is scheduled to be paroled next year.

Brian Keith Stack shot Ray Lynn Pierson, 29, on Highway 20 near Panguitch. A note on the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole website says Stack will be granted parole on Feb. 17.

Pierson’s son, Garfield County Sheriff’s Deputy Clint Pierson, on Tuesday argued what he has for years — that the judge who sentenced Stack never intended for him to be freed. The judge, on the sentencing order, crossed out the word “indeterminate” and wrote his initials by it.

Stack “may be getting out,” Clint Pierson said, "but I don’t have my dad back.”

Stack was 18 years old and driving a stolen vehicle when, on Nov. 7, 1978, he took gasoline without paying. Lynn Pierson, as the trooper was known, didn’t know that when he stopped him west of Panguitch, according to written accounts.

Stack fired a stolen .357 pistol and shot Lynn Pierson, who managed to fire six shots at Stack before he fled. The trooper died. After a pursuit, law enforcement arrested Stack near Beaver.

“He chose the very most violence option," Clint Pierson said Tuesday.

(Courtesy of Utah Department of Public Safety) Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Ray Lynn Pierson

In 1979, Stack pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

Board of Pardons and Parole records show Stack has had eight parole hearings since 1994. The most recent was Sept. 3 of this year.

Lynn Pierson had three children and his wife was pregnant with a fourth at the time of his death. Lynn Pierson came from a family of law enforcement. His father and one sister also were state troopers.

The trooper and his killer also have been the subjects of litigation over the decades. Stack once sued the Utah Department of Corrections over what he said was neglectful dental care.

Meanwhile, the cross along Highway 20 honoring Lynn Pierson was one of memorials that was the subject of lawsuit by an atheist group over what they said was a state sponsorship of religion. Lynn Pierson’s cross was eventually moved to nearby private property.

Stack is the second inmate convicted of killing a Utah trooper to be paroled in the last 1½ years. The board granted parole to Jason Scott Pearson in 2018. He shot and killed Trooper Dennis “Dee” Lund during a chase along Interstate 70 in Emery County in 1993.