Utah asks U.S. Supreme Court to consider death penalty case

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General’s Office is asking the nation’s top court to hear a case of delays in executing one of its inmates.

In a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, the state asks the justices to settle an issue of cases with un-exhausted issues.

“A jury sentenced Respondent Troy Kell to death for a race-motivated murder he committed in prison 25 years ago. His federal habeas petition has been pending for 10 years,” Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes writes in the petition, adding that lower court stays of the case “constitutes an abuse of discretion that irreparably harms—again—Utah’s sovereign interest in the timely execution of its criminal judgments.”

Kell is facing a firing squad execution for the 1994 murder of Lonnie Blackmon inside the Utah State Prison’s Gunnison facility. The gruesome crime was captured on camera, showing Kell repeatedly stabbing his victim and walking around the cell block screaming “white power,” his arms covered in blood.

Earlier this year, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal, saying Kell had not exhausted all his federal and state court processes so they didn’t have jurisdiction to hear it. The court never considered the central issue of the appeal — how long it has taken to exhaust Kell’s death penalty claims.

Kell has not yet replied. His attorneys filed a motion to allow him to proceed in forma pauperis, which means he’s asking for the filing fees to be waived because he has no money.

Read the Utah Attorney General’s filing here:

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