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Sean D. Reyes
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Statement on Utah Supreme Court’s Unanimous Ruling in Pinder v. State

SALT LAKE CITY July 21, 2015 – The Utah Attorney General’s Office today issued a statement on the Utah Supreme Court’s decision to unanimously reject John Pinder’s appeal in Pinder v. State.

“This case demonstrates our office’s firm commitment to ensuring justice is served in Utah criminal cases, to upholding valid convictions on appeal, and to protecting the rights of victims and their families,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.

In 1998, John Pinder and Filomeno Ruiz callously murdered June Flood and Rex Tanner on Pinder’s ranch in Duchesne, Utah, after which Pinder disposed of the bodies with dynamite. Ruiz later pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and testified against Pinder. After a jury convicted Pinder of two counts of aggravated murder, a judge sentenced him to life in prison. In 2005, the Utah Supreme Court affirmed Pinder’s convictions on appeal.

In 2006, Pinder again challenged his convictions in the Fourth District Court.  After the district court denied relief, Pinder again appealed.

In a unanimous ruling today, the Utah Supreme Court rejected Pinder’s appeal. In doing so, the court rejected all of Pinder’s arguments. Among others, Pinder argued that he had newly discovered evidence in the form of testimony from several prison inmates who claimed Ruiz had told them that Ruiz and someone else committed the murders.  But the Utah Supreme Court agreed with the district court that all of Pinder’s witnesses were “seriously wanting in credibility.” The court also agreed that some of these witnesses’ claims were “inconsistent with absolutely established, known undisputed facts,” and that one of the witnesses in particular was a “bamboozler and professional scam artist” whose testimony could not be trusted.

Attorney General Reyes thanks Assistant Attorneys General Brett DelPorto and Ryan Tenney, who represented the State during the post-conviction proceedings and on the appeal from the dismissal of the post-conviction petition.  Attorney General Reyes also thanks former Assistant Attorneys General Creighton Horton and Mike Wims for their excellent work while representing the State during the original trial.

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