Utah death-row inmate featured in best-selling book dies

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah prison officials say a death-row inmate whose double-murder case was featured in the book "Under the Banner of Heaven" and who was nearing an execution by firing squad has died of natural causes.

Utah Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kaitlin Felsted said in a statement Monday that 78-year-old Ron Lafferty died at the state prison in the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper.

Lafferty was likely only months away from becoming the first American executed by firing squad in nearly a decade after an appeals court rejected his latest his appeal in August.

Lafferty was convicted in the 1984 deaths of his sister-in-law and her baby daughter. He claimed the killings carried out with his brother were directed by God because of the victim's resistance to his beliefs in polygamy.

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Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com