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JUSTICES ORDER SIDES TO RESOLVE FLAWS IN MENZIES TRIAL TRANSCRIPT

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The Utah Supreme Court on Thursday ordered defense and prosecution attorneys to resolve their differences over an inaccurate transcript from the 1988 trial of condemned killer Ralph LeRoy Menzies.

The court also ruled that Menzies' court-appointed attorney, Joan Watt, will have until Jan. 6, 1990, to file briefs on Menzies' appeal of his conviction in the 1986 slaying of a Salt Lake woman.Court clerk Geoff Butler had said a minute entry released Thursday showed the justices had denied Menzies' motion for a new trial. However, he later said the entry was a draft and that Hall had amended it to grant the defense motion for an extension of the deadline for briefs.

"The draft went back to the chief and he deleted that sentence," Butler said.

Menzies was sentenced to death for the murder of Maurine Hunsaker, who was kidnapped from a Kearns gas station on Feb. 23, 1986. Her body was found two days later in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Her throat had been cut.

In a hearing Wednesday, Watt argued for a new trial, saying the transcript was so riddled with errors that the court could not accurately review the case.

"This is a capital case and we have no way of knowing what was said," she said.

Watt has said the errors were discovered when a 57-page portion of transcript transcribed during Menzies' 1988 trial in 3rd District Court was compared with the entire transcript, which was transcribed afterward.

She said the word "purge" appeared in one version, while the other had "perjure" in its place. Other errors included "viable" vs. "available" and "causative" as opposed to "exhaustive."

The court reporter was dismissed in 1988, said District Court Administrator Tom Shea.

Assistant Attorney General Barbara Bearnson acknowledged there were problems with the transcript but assured the court they can be corrected and were not significant enough to justify a new trial.