Barring a last-minute reprieve from courts that have rebuffed them before, two convicted torture-murderers will die before a firing squad here Thursday.
The executions would be the nation's first since Gary Gilmore was shot to death here on Jan. 17, 1977, and only the second and third in this decade.
On that cold January day last year five other men were on maximum security's death row at Utah State Prison."I'll see you in hell, Pierre and Andrews," Gilmore shouted to two of them sitting silent, watchful down the hall. Guards say Gilmore laughed. Pierre and Andrews did not.
Dale Pierre and William Andrews, known as the hi-fi shop torture murderers, were denied a stay of execution by state District Court Judge James S. Sawaya on Thursday morning. That afternoon, Utah Supreme Court Justice Richard J. Maughan granted the stay. But in a 4-to-1 ruling two hours later, the Supreme Court as a whole overruled him and denied the stay, setting instead a hearing for Monday on whether the two convicted murderers should pay the ultimate penalty.
From previous court voting records it would appear that Monday's hearing will result in a 3-to-2 vote denying the stay.
Legal maneuvering hinge essentially on that decision, since the U.S. Supreme Court in October declined to hear their appeal.
Nevertheless, an appeal also was filed late today in the U.S. District Court for Utah. The response of Chief Judge Aldon Anderson cannot be calculated, although he has a record of conservatism.
In addition, Gov. Scott M. Matheson can issue a stay until Wednesday, remanding the case to the state's pardons board, which would schedule a special session to hear the case. Should that happen, the Gilmore case suggests that the board would remand the issue back to the state court of original sentencing, where Pierre and Andrews would be given a new execution date.
However, Matheson said through a spokesman today that he would not originate a stay, and gave no indication of whether he would grant a stay should the attorneys request it. But he has gone on the record as favoring capital punishment in cases of "heinous crimes."
Until a stay is granted by the judiciary, the governor, or the pardons board, the effective date for execution remains: sunrise Dec. 7.
This long-running suspense story began in the basement of the Hi-Fi Shop in Ogden, a railroad town of about 30,000 just north of here.
It was April 22, 1974, around 6 p.m., when armed robbers entered the shop and, using electrical cord, tied up three employes -- Sherry Michelle Ansley, 18, Stanley Walker, 20, and Cortney Naisbitt, 16 -- while they loaded $24,000 worth of stereo equipment in a van.
About 8 p.m. Orren W. Walker, 43 went to the store to find out why his son Stanley had not returned from work. Finding the back door slightly open, he stepped in. At the bottom of the basement steps, a man with a gun silently waved him down.
The elder Walker had his hands tied in back, his mouth taped, his feet bound.
Ten minutes later, Carol Naisbitt, Cortney's mother, arrived. She, too, was summoned downstairs.
The Ansley girl was taken into another room, stripped and raped, then brought back into the larger room.
The victims, now numbering five, were forced to drink a caustic drain cleaning solution. The robbers discussed killing the five to forestall identification.
The decision made, all five were shot in the back of the head as they stood facing a wall. When Orren Walker fell, one of the gunmen stuck a ballpoint pen in his ear and kicked it three times into his ear. It lodged below the brain but did not kill him. Walker had earlier spit out the acid rather than swallow it as the others had.
The five were left there, and shortly after 10 p.m., Mrs. Walker and her younger son, Lynn, searching, drove to the store. They could hear the elder Walker inside, and Lynn kicked in the door.
Officers found Cortney Naisbitt at the bottom of the stairs, alive but unconscious. They found his mother lying on her back. Nearby, lying next to each other, were Miss Ansley and Stanley Walker, both dead. Both Naisbitts were alive when police arrived, but Mrs. Naisbitt died at a hospital shortly after.
Pierre and Andrews were arrested for the triple slayings at nearby Hill Air Force Base the next night. A third airman, Keith Leon Roberts, was picked up later.
The three blacks were convicted in Ogden later that year, with jurors chosen from the predominantly white, Mormon, middle-class population. For Pierre and Andrews the penalty was death. For Roberts, the penalty was five years to life, having been convicted only of robbery.
Walker, who testified at the trial, recovered after a brief hospitalization. It took six operations and medical bills of more than $90,000 before Cortney recovered.
The legal options remaining are chancy and few. Attorneys D. Gilbert Athay, representing Pierre, and John T. Caine, Andrews' attorney, will not speak publicly on their next course of action.