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JUSTICES UPHOLD MURDER CONVICTION

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The Utah Supreme Court has refused to overturn the second-degree murder conviction of an Ogden man in a 1987 bludgeoning death.

Stanley E. Gotschall lost his appeal before the court, despite his attorneys' claims of error in the jury selection, admission of evidence and jury instruction.Gotschall was convicted in 2nd District Court for the May 17, 1987, death of Don Miller in the Horseshoe Lounge and Showroom in Ogden. Witnesses testified the defendant struck Miller several times with the heavy end of a pool cue, and that most of the blows were struck after the victim lay motionless on the floor.

Gotschall's lawyers argued the judge erred in failing to dismiss a juror who did not understand the state's responsibility to prove guilt until it was explained to him. The juror was excused by defense attorneys, using one of their peremptory challenges.

But Justice Michael Zimmerman, writing for the court, stated once the juror demonstrated his grasp of the legal rule, the court had no obligation to dismiss him.

Defense attorneys also claimed that comments Gotschall made earlier the day of the crime should not have been admitted into evidence. At the trial, witnesses testified the defendant said he would like to "bash in" the heads of two other people with a baseball bat he called an "attitude adjustor," according to the ruling released last week.

The justices ruled the trial court could admit the comments to show the defendant's state of mind when the crime occurred.