Utah

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Utah on Verge of Wiping Out Chronic Homelessness

It's simple, really—just give the homeless a home

(Newser) - Utah makes it sound so easy: Solve the state's chronic homeless problem by just putting them in homes. That's the goal of Utah's Housing First initiative, a program that has since 2005 cut the number of chronically homeless down from 1,932 individuals to a mere 178—... More »

Utah Mom Sentenced for Killing 6 Newborns

Sickened judge gives maximum to Megan Huntsman

(Newser) - A Utah mother who killed six of her newborn babies and hid their bodies in her garage was sentenced to up to life in prison at an emotional hearing yesterday in which a prosecutor depicted her as an "incredibly indifferent and callous" murderer. The judge imposed a sentence against... More »

Inmate Dies 2 Weeks Shy of Parole After Dialysis Error

Utah prisoner Ramon C. Estrada would have been paroled April 21

(Newser) - An inmate from Utah just weeks away from parole died after a dialysis technician failed to show up—for two days in a row. The Utah Department of Corrections says 62-year-old Ramon C. Estrada died on Sunday of "apparent cardiac arrest due to renal failure," the Salt Lake ... More »

Controversial Bull Statue Loses Its Manhood

Utah neighbors outraged by huge, conical penis

(Newser) - An oversized bull penis at the center of a dispute in the small Utah town of Hurricane has been cut off—but restaurant owner Stephen Ward says it was because he decided he didn't like the look of it on the statue, not because he cares what his neighbors... More »

Utah Approves Firing Squads

Gov. Gary Herbert signs law to OK backup to lethal injection

(Newser) - Utah became the only state to allow firing squads for executions today when Gov. Gary Herbert signed a law approving the method's use when no lethal-injection drugs are available. Herbert has said he finds the firing squad "a little bit gruesome," but Utah is a capital punishment... More »

Utah OKs 'Landmark' Mormon-Backed LGBT Rights Bill

Gov. Gary Herbert expected to sign 'Utah compromise' today

(Newser) - Both Mormon leaders and gay rights advocates are praising new legislation known as "the Utah compromise." Passed in the Republican-controlled legislature last night amid cheers, it prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing and employment, the New York Times reports, while simultaneously protecting religious... More »

Utah Lawmakers OK Return of Firing Squads

It's not clear whether governor will sign 'backup method' bill

(Newser) - Under a bill passed by Utah's state Senate yesterday, the state's executioners won't have to worry about a shortage of lethal injection drugs unless there's also a shortage of bullets. The bill, introduced by its Republican sponsor as a "backup," allows the use of... More »

Cops Heard Mysterious Voice Coming From Flipped Car

And not the voice of a toddler

(Newser) - A remarkable footnote to the story of the 18-month-old who was rescued after as many as 14 hours upside-down in an overturned car with her dead mother in a Utah river: The four responding Spanish Fork officers who flipped the car swear they all heard a voice saying "help... More »

Baby Alive in Submerged Car, Hours After Crash

But mom is found dead in front seat

(Newser) - A fisherman spotted an overturned car in a Utah river yesterday—and when first responders showed up, they looked inside and found a dead mom and her 18-month-old girl still alive some 14 hours after the accident may have happened, NBC News reports. Police officers "tipped the car on... More »

DEA Agent Warns Utah of Pot-Crazed Rabbits

He argues against legalization of medical pot

(Newser) - People who advocate legalizing medical marijuana in Utah clearly haven't given much thought to the risk of pot-crazed rabbits running wild, a DEA agent testified last week. Special Agent Matt Fairbanks told a state Senate hearing about how in the course of his marijuana eradication work, he had encountered... More »

Utah Mom Pleads Guilty to Smothering 6 Newborns

Megan Huntsman faces life in prison

(Newser) - A Utah mother accused of killing six of her newborn babies and storing their bodies in her garage pleaded guilty to six counts of murder today. Megan Huntsman, 39, faces up to life in prison. She will be sentenced April 20. The deaths sent shockwaves through the quiet, mostly Mormon... More »

Utah Hunter Kills Famed 'Grand Canyon' Gray Wolf

Hunter said he thought endangered gray wolf was a coyote

(Newser) - Hundred of miles from its Wyoming home, "914F" wandered to the rocky North Rim of the Grand Canyon last fall—the first gray wolf spotted there in 70 years, the Arizona Republic notes—before heading into Utah, likely searching for food or a mate. But in December, the wolf'... More »

Utah Lawmakers Debate Sex With Unconscious People

Law also applies to spouses, committee member told

(Newser) - A Utah bill stating that unconscious people cannot consent to sex proved to be more controversial than expected when it came before a legislative committee earlier this week. Rep. Brian Greene wondered if it meant that somebody who had sex with an unconscious spouse could be charged with rape, saying... More »

The Creepy Ties Between This Killer, Dead Utah Family

Dan Lafferty says he and Kristi Strack fell in love

(Newser) - Cult leader and convicted killer Dan Lafferty didn't just develop a relationship with Utah couple Benjamin and Kristi Strack, found dead in September along with their three children. Lafferty—whose philosophy states the world is run by the devil and the apocalypse is imminent—says his ideology influenced their... More »

Utah Parents' Apocalyptic Beliefs Led to Kids' Murder

Stracks had spoken of impending doom, police say

(Newser) - Benjamin and Kristi Strack had spoken of escaping "impending doom," relatives told investigators after the Utah couple and their three children were found dead in September —but they thought they were talking about moving somewhere like Montana and living off the grid. Instead, the Stracks killed themselves... More »

Fugitive Who Escaped Jail 34 Years Ago Is Caught

Utah's Sam Gene Harris is being sent back to Mississippi

(Newser) - Police in Utah say they've arrested a man who escaped from a Mississippi jail 34 years ago. Authorities said today that 61-year-old Sam Gene Harris also escaped from jails in Oregon before landing in the small central Utah town of Wellington several years ago. Carbon County Sheriff Jeff Wood... More »

Boy, 3, Answers Mom's Phone in Stolen Car

Utah boy honked horn so cops could find vehicle

(Newser) - Elizabeth Barrios was separated from her 3-year-old son for 20 terrifying minutes after a thief stole her car while he was inside yesterday—but it could have been a lot longer if he hadn't known how to unlock her phone. The Ogden, Utah, woman left her car unlocked and... More »

Mom Who Inspired Sarah McLachlan Dead at 34

Kathy Taylor of Utah inspired Sarah McLachlan, others

(Newser) - Kathy Taylor, who inspired singer Sarah McLachlan and others, has died in Utah after a fight against cancer while pregnant with her sixth child. She was 34. Taylor died at her home in Bear River on New Year's Eve, four months after she was diagnosed with an aggressive form... More »

Guy Builds Snow Cave to Survive 2 Nights in Canyon

Lawrence Orduno also has frozen Gatorade, lighter to thank

(Newser) - Lawrence Orduno got separated from a friend while snowmobiling in a remote canyon in Utah Saturday, and then his snowmobile got stuck in the snow. But the 48-year-old managed to survive two nights on his own, he told the AP in an interview this week. First, he managed to find... More »

Rare Gray Wolf in Utah Shot by Mistake

Hunter says he thought it was a coyote

(Newser) - A hunter in Utah says he got a startling surprise this weekend after killing a coyote: The coyote turned out to be a gray wolf, a rarity in those parts. The hunter notified state wildlife authorities, who confirmed that he had indeed shot a 3-year-old female wolf near the city... More »

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