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`LOADED' CONVICT STABS ANOTHER INMATE 6 TIMES

Drunk from a batch of home brew, convicted killer Ronnie Lee Gardner stabbed another inmate half a dozen times Sunday afternoon.

Gardner used the sink in his maximum security cell to mix an alcoholic brew made from fruits or vegetables, said Corrections spokesman Jack Ford.When correctional officers let about eight inmates into the day room for a recreational hour, Gardner stumbled downstairs with them.

"He was pretty loaded," Ford said. He approached inmate Richard "Fatts" Thomas, 40, and stabbed him with a homemade knife about six times.

Ford said officials aren't sure what provoked Gardner to stab Thomas.

"We think he might have been encouraged by other inmates," he said. The makeshift knife he used resembled an ice pick.

Thomas was stabbed in the neck and chest, but none of the wounds were to vital organs. He was treated at a local hospital, and was back at the prison Tuesday, Ford said.

Thomas is in prison on robbery charges and has a history of suing state agencies. He went back to prison last year after robbing a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Salt Lake City and then holding off police by telling them he had a hostage in an apartment building adjacent to the restaurant.

Gardner was sentenced to die for the April 2, 1985, death of attorney Michael Burdell, who was gunned down during a botched escape attempt at 3rd District Court. Gardner was at the court for a hearing on a murder charge in the 1984 shooting death of bartender Melvin John Otterstrom. He later pleaded guilty to Otterstrom's murder.