SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court has granted a death row inmate a new hearing after questions about tainted testimony.
In a ruling handed down last week, the state’s top court ordered a new hearing for Douglas Carter, who is on death row for the 1985 murder of Eva Olesen. The Court sided with defense attorneys, who obtained statements from two key witnesses in the case, Epifanio and Lucia Tovar, who claimed police not only paid their living expenses but threatened them with deportation to testify against Carter.
In its opinion, the Court called the claims “damning revelations.”
“We view the Tovars’ testimony, as we must under the summary judgment standard, as inconsistent at times and tainted as a whole by the evidence contained in the Tovars’ declarations. For these reasons, we hold that there exists a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the outcome of the trial would have been different
but for the absence of the evidence,” Justice Deno Himonas wrote.
Carter is facing execution for the 1985 murder of Olesen in Provo. Prosecutors said the 57-year-old woman, who was a relative of Provo’s then-police chief, had been stabbed 10 times and shot in the back of the head in a home-invasion robbery.
The Court ordered a new hearing at a lower court level. It could potentially remove the threat of execution from over his head, if he is successful in his challenge.