State intends to appeal vacated death sentence of Utah man

Nov 28, 2022, 4:46 PM | Updated: 5:42 pm

death sentence appeal...

FILE: Defense lawyer Mark Moffat, left, clears a spot at the table for death row inmate Douglas Stewart Carter during a hearing in Provo's 4th District Court in October 2007. Photo: Al Hartmann, Salt Lake Tribune/Pool

PROVO, Utah — The state of Utah filed paperwork with the 4th District Court in Provo Monday indicating it intends to appeal the vacated death sentence of a man who has been on the state’s Death Row since 1985. 

Douglas Stewart Carter remains at the Utah State Correction Facility. The ruling that would potentially free him stays on hold pending the state’s appeal. 

Wednesday, Judge Derek P. Pullan issued a ruling overturning Carter’s convictions for the murder of Eva Olesen, whose nephew served as the Provo police chief back in 1985. Monday, prosecutors working in the office of the state attorney general announced their plan to appeal. 

Utah death sentence on appeal since 1985

Carter appealed his initial death sentence in 1985, receiving a second death sentence in 1992. In 2019, the Utah Supreme Court sent the case back to the 4th District Court in Provo. Justices found the testimony of two key witnesses in the case “tainted,” after Carter’s defense team located the couple in 2011. At that time, they told attorneys they had received cash and other gifts in exchange for testifying against Carter in his 1985 trial. 

Back in 1985, Epifanio and Lucia Tovar testified that Carter came to them after Olesen’s murder, bragging about the crime. But in the 2011 affidavit, Epifanio Tovar told the defense he and his wife were advised not to testify about any benefits they received from police, which included rent payments, money for utilities, and even food and Christmas presents, worth thousands of dollars in total.  

The opinion from the state Supreme Court found that evidence could have changed the outcome of Carter’s trial. 

“We hold that there exists a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the outcome of the trial would have been different,” the justices wrote in 2019. 

Lower court judge overturns conviction

Pullan’s ruling last week cited evidence the Tovars faced threats of deportation and that police coached them on specific language to use in their testimony. Carter’s defense team argued the failure of prosecutors to disclose that information violated Carter’s rights under Brady v. Maryland, a landmark ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that requires prosecutors to disclose any information that could be considered “exculpatory” — in other words, information that could exonerate someone accused of a crime. 

“The State knowingly failed to disclose that the testimony was false and coached by police,” Pullan wrote. “Carter’s conviction was secured — at least in part — on the basis of this false testimony.” 

In announcing their plans to appeal, attorneys for the state of Utah did not offer any specifics about the arguments they plan to make. But the response means the ruling overturning Carter’s convictions remains on hold while the appeals process moves forward. 

Utah officials last put an inmate to death in 2010. Ronnie Lee Gardner’s execution prompted widespread media attention because he opted to face the firing squad rather than lethal injection. It also sparked ongoing debates about the death penalty as a punishment.  

Related stories: 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


SALT LAKE CITY -- *** temples were announced in the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of the Chur...

Clayre Scott & Devin Oldroyd

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announces 20 new temples

20 new temples were announced in the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Sunday.

9 hours ago

Photo of a SLCPD cruiser...

Devin Oldroyd

SLCPD arrests three suspects in Sunday morning shooting investigation

A Salt Lake City Police Department investigation resulted in the arrest of three individuals involved in a shooting early Sunday morning.

11 hours ago

Car accident on US189 on October 1, 2023. (Steve Fisher)...


Police: Fatal car accident on US 189 in Provo Canyon

U.S. Route 189 is closed both northbound and southbound due to a fatal car crash at mile marker 20 in Provo Canyon, authorities said.

12 hours ago

President Russell M. Nelson, president of the Church, delivers the closing address of the 191st Sem...

Boyd Matheson

The Quest for Peace: The difference between peacemaking and peacekeeping

With derisive rhetoric dominating the debate, it seems that the pathway to peace has been blocked, broken, or completely erased.

14 hours ago

SALT LAKE CITY — An infant’s body has been located after the mother was charged with planning ...

Mary Culbertson

Infant body found after mother arrested, charged with planning his death

An infants body was located after the mother was arrested and charged with aggravated murder and took police to the location she said she left the body, off I-80 near Parleys Canyon.

15 hours ago

SAINT GEORGE, Utah -- A high-speed pursuit started in St. George Saturday and ended in Mesquite, Ar...

Derrick Jones

Shots fired in southern Utah pursuit

St. George police pursued a man through southern Utah, Nevada, and Arizona after he attempted to break into a home.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

State intends to appeal vacated death sentence of Utah man