A psychologist who cleared Ron Lafferty as competent in 1984 now says a 4th District jury should find him mentally ill.

Testifying Thursday at Lafferty's retrial on two capital murder charges, Dr. Robert Howell said if the jury convicts Lafferty of killing his sister-in-law and infant niece 12 years ago, it should find that he suffered from mental illness at the time."I think he perceives there was nothing wrong with (the killings,)" Howell said.

Howell, an admitted advocate for the defense's claim that Lafferty had a diminished mental capacity in 1984, said the jury might want to consider a verdict of guilty but mentally ill, which could spare Lafferty the death penalty. He also suggested the jury consider other lesser offenses, such as negligent homicide. He said if the jury doesn't have an option of a lesser offense, it should free Lafferty.

Lafferty and his brother, Dan, were convicted in separate trials in 1985 of killing Brenda Wright Lafferty, 24, and her daughter Erica, 15 months. The two were found in their American Fork apartment July 24, 1984, with their throats slashed. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Ron Lafferty's conviction in 1991, took him off death row and ordered a new trial.

A drifter traveling with the Laffertys in 1984 testified last week that Ron Lafferty claimed responsibility for killing Brenda and thanked Dan for killing the baby. Dan, however, testified Tuesday that he killed both victims. Both witnesses placed Ron inside the home where he beat Brenda before she was killed.

Dan Lafferty said he was fulfilling a "revelation" received by Ron calling for the "removal" of Brenda, Erica and two Highland church leaders. Prosecutors say Ron Lafferty used the "revelation" as an excuse and the killings were revenge for encouragement Brenda gave to Diana Lafferty, who divorced Ron in 1983.

Lafferty's attorneys are obviously conceding that their client played a role in the slayings. Their witnesses are apparently trying to convince jurors that his role was less than Dan Lafferty's and that he was delusional at the time. Much of the testimony is the same presented during earlier competency hearings but never heard before by the jury.

Howell said he believes Lafferty began suffering from mental illness in 1983 and that his judgment was impaired in 1984. He said Lafferty was delusional and believes the killings were a religious and family issue.

Prosecutors pointed out that Howell's testimony now differs from his opinion in 1984, when he signed a report with three other doctors declaring Lafferty competent. Howell said Thursday he was pressured into signing the report.

"I know I made a mistake," he said.

However, Howell submitted his own separate report in 1984 stating Lafferty was competent.

"What I was doing was showing the other three that I was bowing to their pressure," he said.

On cross-examination, Howell said even though Lafferty's judgment was impaired, he still had the ability to know the killings were intentional and the ability to refrain from carrying them out.

Psychiatrist Peter Heinbecker testified that he believes Lafferty was manic depressive in 1984. He said the illness likely limited Lafferty's ability to understand the consequences of his actions. On cross-examination, however, he said the illness wouldn't have made Lafferty reckless or affected his ability to control his actions.

Testimony for the next few days will likely come from prosecution rebuttal witnesses. It's unlikely that Lafferty will testify in his own defense. The case is expected to go to the jury sometime next week.