PROVO, Utah -- The trial for two brothers accused of killing their sister-in-law and her infant daughter on what they claim were orders from God should proceed despite the attempted suicide of one defendant, a defense attorney said Sunday.
The attorney for Dan Lafferty said Sunday he believed his client will want to go ahead with the trial despite the fact his brother and co-defendant, Ron Lafferty, was in a coma at Utah Valley Medical Center in Provo after hanging himself in his jail cell Saturday.
'I've got to see Dan. But I believe he wants to go ahead with the trial,' said defense attorney Gary Weight. 'He has expressed a desire for a speedy trial and I don't think the unfortunate occurrence with his brother will change that desire.'
The trial for the Laffertys, who claim to be prophets acting on divine orders, was scheduled to begin Thursday after several delays because of questions surrounding the mental competency of the two Utah County residents.
Utah County Attorney Noall Wooton also said the trial will go ahead as planned, at least for Dan Lafferty. He said if necessary, he would schedule another trial for Ron.
Ron Lafferty, 43, was found hanging in his jail cell Saturday by Dan Lafferty, 36, after the younger brother had returned from a talk with one of the jailers in another area of the cell block.
The elder Lafferty was not breathing and had no pulse and officials believe he suffered brain damage.
The two brothers are charged in the July 24 slayings of Brenda Lafferty, 24, and her 15-month-old daughter Erica, whose bodies were found with their throats slashed in their Spanish Fork home.
Utah Valley Medical Center officials said there was no change in Lafferty's condition Sunday, that he remained in a coma and was listed in critical but stable condition.
Prosecutors say the Laffertys believed they had been ordered by God to murder their third brother's wife and child. Their sanity has been a major question in the case, but a judge recently found both competent to stand trial.
The Laffertys were housed in adjoining cells at the Utah County Jail. The jail commander said the two had been fasting and praying for a week, trying to exorcise 'evil spirits' from Ron Lafferty.
'Dan told me Ron was having problems inside, that he was acting out and Dan was concerned about him,' Scott said. 'He was being aggressive and Dan said he was afraid of him. He felt he was possessed by an evil spirit.'