The Utah Supreme Court on Friday unanimously rejected an appeal by death row inmate Troy Michael Kell, who was sentenced to death for stabbing a man 67 times in a gruesome slaying captured on prison cameras.
The high court upheld a lower court's dismissal of an appeal Kell had lodged earlier.
Kell in 1994 stabbed another prison inmate, Lonnie Blackmon, 67 times — including several times in the eyes — with a homemade knife. Prosecutors depicted the slaying as racially motivated. Kell was in a Utah prison after he being transferred from Nevada under an inter-state agreement. He had been convicted of a different murder in that state and had been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Kell's trial for Blackmon's slaying was held in a Utah prison due to security concerns and a jury found him guilty of aggravated murder and sentenced him to death. The Utah Supreme Court previously affirmed his conviction and his sentence.
Kell cited several claims in his 2003 petition for post-conviction relief, which he amended in 2005. Among his claims were arguments that he did not get a fair trial, there were problems with jury selection, and that he did not get effective help from his lawyers at both the trial and appellate levels.
The state responded with a motion to dismiss Kell's claims, saying that these had either already been litigated on direct appeal or could have been raised on direct appeal, but that did not occur, so these were procedurally barred from consideration. A post-conviction court agreed with the state, and Kell appealed that decision, which the Supreme Court has now denied.
Kell is one of 10 men in Utah's death row.