CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Utah prosecutors want independent mental health testing of Ralph Menzies, death row inmate

Feb 6, 2024, 6:00 PM | Updated: Feb 13, 2024, 4:11 pm

Ralph Menzies...

FILE: Death row inmate Ralph Menzies attends 3rd District Court in West Jordan on Wednesday, Oct. 3. 2007. The state of Utah has canceled a hearing on the application for an execution warrant scheduled for Feb. 23, 2024, so that independent psychological testing can be conducted on Menzies. (Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune)

(Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune)

SALT LAKE CITY — The state of Utah has requested independent psychological testing for Ralph Menzies, a man on death row who is nearing execution.

On Jan. 23, 2024, Menzies’s legal team told the court their client had dementia, and therefore wasn’t capable of understanding the ramifications of the death penalty.

Specifically, Menzies’s attorneys claimed it’s been so long since his conviction and sentencing that he no longer understands the concept of execution. Putting Menzies to death, his attorneys argued, may be an unconstitutional representation of cruel and unusual punishment.

State prosecutors said Menzies’ lawyers filed a petition with MRI imaging as well as reports from his doctor confirming the diagnosis. The doctor also reportedly cited other records not included in the filing.

In 1988, Menzies was convicted of murdering Maurine Hunsaker. Hunsaker disappeared from a Kearns convenience store in 1986. The prosecution said Menzies took Hunsaker to Big Cottonwood Canyon where he murdered her and left her body tied to a tree.

Menzies’ case reappeared in the courts on Jan. 17, 2024, when the state filed a motion to execute Menzies.

In new court documents, prosecutors said they want new doctors involved and all interviews with Menzies recorded.

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Utah prosecutors want independent mental health testing of Ralph Menzies, death row inmate