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Even as prosecutors sought to remove the final hurdle to the execution of Hi Fi Shop killer William Andrews, a defense attorney has launched a last-ditch effort to keep his client alive.

Timothy K. Ford, the Seattle attorney representing Andrews, has asked the Utah Supreme Court to stay Andrews' execution until the court can fully review a new appeal begun in Utah's 3rd District Court.But Assistant Utah Attorney General Sandra Sjogren says a stay can't be granted because there is, as yet, no execution date. In a motion and memorandum filed Wednesday with the Utah Supreme Court, Sjogren urges the justices not to further delay execution of a death sentence imposed 14 years ago.

The attorney general "requests this court to deny (Andrews') motion for a stay of his execution for reasons that the motion is premature and is barred by the Rules of Criminal Procedure under which he requests a stay," Sjogren says in the motion.

Andrews, 33, and co-defendant Pierre Dale Selby were convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated robbery in the slayings, committed during a robbery of the Ogden Hi-Fi Shop on April 22, 1974. Three people were killed, and all five victims were forced to drink a liquid drain cleaner.

Selby was executed by lethal injection Aug. 28.

The pace is quickening in the Andrews case following last week's ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court rejecting a final plea for review of his case. In the wake of the ruling, Sjogren filed a motion with U.S. District Judge David K. Winder asking that the judge lift the stay imposed to allow Andrews his final appeal to the high court. If Winder lifts that stay and there seems to be no reason he won't prosecutors would return to 2nd District Judge John Wahlquist, the original trial court judge, and seek a new execution date within 30 to 60 days.

But Ford hopes the Utah Supreme Court will see fit to impose another stay while he argues that Andrews' original trial attorney was incompetent because he did not advise the jury that Andrews could have been found guilty of second-degree murder. Had Andrews been convicted of that crime, he would not have received the death penalty.

Ford won the first round in that battle when the Utah Supreme Court refused a state motion for summary judgment on the issue. The justices ruled that a full hearing was needed.

But the new lawsuit and the resulting appeal are outside the usual routes for appeal of a death sentence, and Sjogren hopes the Utah justices will refuse to grant a stay. In addition to her claim that the request for a stay is premature, she also says that the criminal rules bar imposition of a stay when an appellant raises issues that should have been raised in an earlier appeal.

Andrews, of Jonesboro, La., also would be subject to a clemency hearing before the Utah Board of Pardons, along with any other 11th-hour court maneuvers launched by his attorneys.