The Latest: Author grateful inmate didn't face firing squad

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Latest on a Utah death-row inmate who died in prison (all times local):

3:55 p.m.

Author Jon Krakauer says he's grateful that a Utah death-row inmate who killed his brother's wife and her toddler has died of natural causes and won't be executed by firing squad in what would have been a circus of an event.

Krakauer made the comment Monday, hours after Utah prison officials said 78-year-old Ron Lafferty had died of natural causes.

Krakauer's 2003 best-selling book "Under the Banner of Heaven" about radical offshoots of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints included Lafferty, who claimed he had received a revelation from God to kill the two because of his sister-in-law's resistance to his fundamentalist belief in polygamy.

Krakauer says he hopes Lafferty's death brings some closure to the relatives of Brenda Lafferty, who died in 1984 along with her 15-month-old daughter Erica.

The Utah state attorney general's office had expected Lafferty to be executed in 2020 and become the first American executed by firing squad in nearly a decade.

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10:22 a.m.

Utah prison officials say a death-row inmate whose double-murder case was featured in the book "Under the Banner of Heaven" and who was nearing an execution by firing squad has died of natural causes.

Utah Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kaitlin Felsted said in a statement Monday that 78-year-old Ron Lafferty died at the state prison in the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper.

Lafferty was likely only months away from becoming the first American executed by firing squad in nearly a decade after an appeals court rejected his latest his appeal in August.

Lafferty was convicted in the 1984 deaths of his sister-in-law and her baby daughter. He claimed the killings carried out with his brother were directed by God because of the victim's resistance to his beliefs in polygamy.

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Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com