Missing evidence was the focus of the second day of testimony in a case bound to make Utah legal history.

Defense attorney Ron Yengich questioned corrections officers about whether videotapes or photographs were made of a Sept. 25 stabbing in the state prison that left an inmate with life-threatening injuries.Yengich is defending death-row murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner against a charge that he stabbed the inmate, a capital offense under a decades-old Utah law.

It is the first time in state history that a person who did not commit murder is facing a charge for which he could be executed.

For that reason, District Attorney Neal Gunnarson agreed to a joint motion that the preliminary hearing be delayed for a week while officers search for any tapes or photographs that may exist.

"We want them (the defense) to have every opportunity to review whatever they think is necessary . . . it's a courtesy we're extending," Gunnarson said.

Yengich questioned corrections investigator Jenny Glover about the location of photos of injuries the inmate, Richard "Fats" Thomas, suffered in the stabbing. She said the snapshots are missing.

"The last time I saw them they were on a desk in the medical dispensary. They seem to have disappeared," Glover said, noting that she had personally contacted every officer who left or entered the room the night of the stabbing.

The usefulness of the photos is questionable considering testimony from a doctor about Thomas' wounds.

However, defense attorneys traditionally seek every scrap of evidence related to their cases, a practice that sometimes leads them to stronger arguments in their clients' favor.

Meantime, the delay will give Gunnarson's office a chance to respond to Yengich's motion Wednesday to dismiss the charge. The defender said the law under which Gardner is charged, passed by legislators in 1974, is vague and unconstitutional.

Yengich cited 14 cases in the motion, some U.S. Supreme Court decisions, to support his argument. Primary among them is Sumner V. Shuman, a 1987 Nevada case.

Shuman, who was serving a life sentence, was convicted of capital murder for killing a fellow inmate. The Supreme Court later struck down the conviction, saying Nevada's mandatory death sentence upon the inmate "created the risk that the death penalty would be imposed in spite of factors which may call for a less severe penalty."

Justices found Shuman's sentence violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Gunnarson's office promises a response backed with a "passel of case law" that supports a denial of Yengich's motion, said researcher Steve Mercer.

It also will tap Congress's decision last year to pass a bill that allows the death sentence in the crimes of treason, espionage, the interstate transportation of firearms with intent to kill and drug enterprise.