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Survivors are fed up with delays
As death penalty cases creep along, families of victims want justice
By Pamela Manson
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published October 14, 2007 1:59 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
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Some grew up without a mother. Some are growing older without their sisters.

Others have raised kids who never had a chance to know their grandmother, who likely would have delighted in seeing the youngsters mature into adults.

And all of the survivors of the murder victims are tired of the appeals of the killers who took their loved ones away.

"Every time there's a delay, there's more frustration," said Kim Salazar, who has spent almost half her life without her mother, Joyce Yost.

Matt Hunsaker was only 10 when his mother died at the hands of Ralph Leroy Menzies in 1986. His children, now 11 and 9, have missed out on knowing Maurine Hunsaker.

"It's getting harder and harder to get to court," Matt Hunsaker said. "He [Menzies] gets three hot meals and a place to stay and we go to a cold cemetery to visit my mom."

As death penalty cases go nationwide, the ones in Utah are moving slowly through the appeals process. Two of the matters, including Menzies', have recently been halted because post-conviction lawyers say they are unable to afford to do the work required and still make a living.

Thomas Brunker, an assistant Utah attorney general who is opposing the death-row prisoners' cases, suggested that the two condemned men represent themselves.

"The state at this point has a strong interest in finality," he said.

The families of the victims say they do, too.

Earlier this month, Gary Oleson sat through a hearing where two attorneys asked to be relieved of representing Douglas Stewart Carter, who murdered his mother almost 23 years ago. If the lawyers' request is granted, Carter's case likely will stall while replacement legal help is sought.

After two sentencings - the first was overturned - Oleson is fed up.

"Twenty-four people convicted him to die," he said. "There's no point. It's just costing taxpayers money. It's got to end."

Barbara Noriega, whose sister and mother were killed in 1990 by death-row inmate Von Lester Taylor, agrees. Noriega wonders how different her life would be with sister Kaye Tiede at her side and wonders if their mother would still be with them, too. She said Taylor's execution may ease the pain one day.

"I think any time justice is carried out, it can heal."

pmanson@sltrib.com



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