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Utah judge sets execution date in 1998 murder despite concerns over a new lethal injection cocktail

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Utah judge sets execution date in 1998 murder despite concerns over a new lethal injection cocktail


A Utah judge on Monday set an August date for the execution of a man convicted in the 1998 killing of a 49-year-old woman, siding against defense attorneys concerned about a new lethal injection drug combination.

Utah judge sets execution date in 1998 murder despite concerns over a new lethal injection cocktail

Taberon Dave Honie, 48, is set to be killed on Aug. 8 after decades of failed appeals. It’s the first public execution in Utah since Ronnie Lee Gardner was killed by firing squad in 2010, according to Utah Department of Corrections spokesperson Glen Mills.

Honie’s attorney Eric Zuckerman said during a Monday court hearing that state officials only told the defense about the “experimental” drug combination on Friday, which he said didn’t leave adequate time to assess the drugs and allow Honie to make an informed decision.

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Two of the three drugs proposed for Honie’s execution – the pain reliever fentanyl and potassium chloride to stop the heart – have been used previously, Mills said. But a third proposed drug, the sedative ketamine, has not been used before to Mills’ knowledge.

“The state has not provided any details about this novel procedure, including the drug doses. And the state says it will not revise its written procedures, making it the only jurisdiction to move forward with an execution without accurate written procedures,” Zuckerman said in a statement after the hearing. He asked for more information and time to consult with medical experts.

Dan Bokovoy, an attorney for the Department of Corrections, said the law didn’t require the agency to update the protocols. Daniel Boyer, of the Utah Attorney General’s office, argued that Honie had exhausted his appeal options and the judge’s duty was to sign off on the execution and set a date.

Judge Jeffrey Wilcox sided with the state, saying there was no legal reason to further delay the sentence.

“I am not prepared after hearing the arguments today to rule and say that these protocols are required before this court will sign a writ of execution,” Wilcox said in court. He added that prisoners don’t have a due process right to receive the terms of their execution protocol.

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But Wilcox requested that information about the administration of the drugs for the execution be provided to Honie as soon as possible.

Honie was convicted in 1999 of aggravated murder for the July 9, 1998, killing of Claudia Benn, 49.

Honie, then 22 years old, smashed through the glass patio door at Benn’s house when she was home with her three granddaughters and daughter, according to court documents. Honie cut Benn’s throat four times and police arrived at the home to find him covered in blood, according to court documents.

The use of the death penalty was effectively suspended by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 but reinstated four years later, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center.

Since then, seven people have been executed in Utah, including four by lethal injections and three by firing squads, said Mills.

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Honie’s execution will be carried out at the Utah State Correctional Facility in Salt Lake City, Mills said.

His failed appeals included arguments that his trial attorney hadn’t raised issues of Honie’s mental illness and substance abuse during the sentencing.

Executions under current state law in Utah are done by lethal injection, unless the drugs needed are unavailable or there’s some other reason that it can’t be carried out, Mills said. In that case, the execution can revert to a firing squad as a backup method, he said.

Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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Utah

Utah delegation explores Iceland's example in carbon capture to reduce emissions

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Utah delegation explores Iceland's example in carbon capture to reduce emissions


REYKJAVIK, Iceland A Utah delegation is looking to Iceland to help pave the way for a cleaner energy future for the state. 

The delegation is focused on geothermal power, but they’re also looking at ways to get closer to net zero emissions.

Carbon capture and recycling could play a major role.

If you’ve ever heard of carbon credits, a lot of them go to a facility called Mammoth. It is the world’s largest carbon storage facility, and is run by Carbfix, a subsidiary of Reykjavík Energy.

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Mick Thomas, director of Utah’s Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, speaks to KSL TV on Wednesday, June 12, 2024 (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

“Definitely, there’s potential in Utah,” said Mick Thomas, director of the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining. “It’s about being able to capture every molecule of energy off of certain carbon molecules we go through.”

Thomas said it’s one of two solutions he believes Utah leaders will take a close look at.

Carbfix captures carbon emissions, turning it into a liquid.

Wells like the ones in Iceland send the carbon deep underground to where it’s solidified by nature. But the challenge is that this process takes a lot of money and energy.

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The end result looks similar to what naturally occurring carbon rocks look like.

A sample of stored carbon. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

“The closer you can get the injection site and the storage facility to the actual point source of the CO2,” Thomas said. “The less cost it is.”

That’s the kind of approach Carbfix takes, with a lot of the expense being covered by individuals and companies that want to reduce their overall footprint and offset their own emissions through buying those credits.

Carbon molecues recycled

But those carbon molecules can be recycled too.

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On Wednesday, the Utah delegation heard from Carbon Recycling International that converts some of the emissions into methanol, which can be used in fuel.

“I’m thrilled,” Thomas said. “It’s very exciting. Yeah, as a geologist, very cool.”

Utah delegates speak to Carbon Recycling International. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

Thomas said it’s a big deal to be able to pull a useable product and recycle the carbon rather than simply burying it.

“There’s a significant interest in Utah compared to other states that I have worked in to make this a reality,” he said.

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The likely application would be to reduce coal and natural gas emissions as they continue to serve as reliable baseload sources.

“Solutions are very expensive,” said Dusty Monks, acting director for the Utah Office of Energy Development.

 

 

 

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Take Back Title IX bus tour visits Utah capitol

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Take Back Title IX bus tour visits Utah capitol


The Independent Women’s Forum brought its Take Back Title IX bus tour to Salt Lake City Tuesday as part of the Our Bodies, Our Sports movement, which claims to be the “largest and most ideologically diverse women’s movement of our time.”

More than 70 local residents came to the Utah capitol to welcome and mingle with the bus of activists involved with the movement, which aims to “protect women’s sports, (and) call attention to the Biden administration’s Title IX regulations and the devastating impact the new rules will have on women and the growing threat to women’s equal athletic opportunity, privacy, and safety,” the tour’s website reads.

The tour features a number of former NCAA athletes and coaches who are sharing their experiences in athletics to raise support for increased protection for women’s sports under Title IX, including enforcing single-sex spaces such as bathrooms and locker rooms.

“Every single story of the ladies featured on this tour is unique, important and must be heard,” said Brianna Howard, the Independent Women’s Forum’s external relations manager who currently manages the bus tour. “They’re making change and it’s important that their voices be heard.”

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Among the women on the tour is Kim Russell, who was terminated from her position as head coach of the Oberlin College women’s lacrosse program in 2023 after a lengthy period of conflict with the school following her public comments regarding transgender individuals competing in college athletics.

“We are erasing all women to make a male who identifies as a woman feel comfortable,” Russell told the Deseret News. “We are putting all women in harm’s way in order to make one male who feels uncomfortable feel comfortable. That is not kind. There are only two sexes, and if we don’t come back to that basic truth, women will be erased.

“We are here specifically to bring the truth. When people say this isn’t about inclusion, it is. We are about the inclusion of women. We are about the inclusion of every human being. The truth is, there are two sexes, and kindness is telling the truth.”

The Independent Women’s Forum does not view the issues driving the bus tour as political, citing support received from members all across the political spectrum.

“Defending common sense and sex-based rights for women should not be political, and historically has not been as political as it is now, but we have folks who just do not understand what a woman is or refuse to define what a woman is, and it’s why we’re here,” Howard said. “We shouldn’t have to have this tour, but unfortunately we’re doing this so women from future generations and current generations have the protections they need under the law.”

The bus tour began May 29 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and continued on to Las Vegas Wednesday, wrapping up June 28 in Nashville. The Salt Lake City event was officially hosted by the Utah Eagle Forum.

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Project Alta: Inside Utah's plan to boost drone delivery, flying taxis

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Project Alta: Inside Utah's plan to boost drone delivery, flying taxis


Utah has embarked on an ambitious project to revolutionize air transportation in the state. Spearheaded by the innovative aerospace company 47G, in collaboration with the Utah Governor’s Office, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), the Utah Inland Port Authority, and various industry stakeholders, Project Alta (Air Logistics Transportation Alliance) seeks to establish an advanced air mobility (AAM) system throughout Utah by 2034.

Project Alta is designed to integrate electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft into the state’s transportation infrastructure, providing new methods for moving people and cargo efficiently and sustainably. The initiative aims to make air travel more accessible, cutting travel times significantly, and seamlessly connecting with existing ground transportation systems. With Utah slated to host the world for the Winter Olympic Games in 2034, efficiently moving people and goods will be critically important.

The initiative involves a phased approach to ensure safety, compliance, and community integration. With aerospace, defense, and cyber companies already making up 20% of Utah’s economy, the plan includes expanding current drone delivery services, establishing reliable cargo transport systems, and eventually facilitating passenger travel through air taxis.

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Several aerial logistics and urban mobility companies are integral to this project. Zipline, known for its drone delivery services, is collaborating with Intermountain Health to deliver medical supplies directly to homes. Hexcel supplies carbon fiber materials to Archer Aviation for their air taxis, while Electric Power Systems provides cutting-edge batteries for various electric aircraft. Additionally, Albany Engineered Composites and Intergalactic contribute structural components and thermal management systems, respectively, to support advanced air mobility vehicles.

Leading Project Alta is Chris Metts, a former senior official from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with over three decades of experience in national AAM activities. His expertise ensures that Project Alta adheres to all federal standards and regulatory requirements, emphasizing a “crawl-walk-run” approach to gradually and safely integrate AAM technologies into Utah’s transportation framework.

The potential benefits of this project extend beyond faster travel times. AAM technologies are sustainable, utilizing electric aircraft that reduce carbon emissions and integrate smoothly into urban, suburban, and rural settings. To date, state legislators have appropriated over $3 million for AAM initiatives.

The successful implementation of Project Alta will require continued collaboration among government agencies, industry stakeholders, and the public. As Utah leads the way in this innovative field, it stands to attract significant investment and become a model for other states and regions looking to develop their own advanced air mobility systems.

Read more: DJI ban: What happens to the drones I already own?

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