A Utah man who was sentenced to death in 1985 will receive a new hearing after evidence proves witness testimony was falsified.
Douglas Stewart Carter has spent 33 years on death row for the murder of 57-year-old Eva Olesen. Carter’s conviction was based on written letters by witnesses Epifanio and Lucia Tovar who reportedly are related to the victim. In the letters, they allege Carter bragged about the murder. Once the guilty verdict was handed down, the Tovars vanished.
Carter’s defense team found them in 2011 and the two revealed their testimony came with unlawful perks. They said the Provo police department for which Olesen was once a police chief, paid their rent and purchased gifts for them leading up to the trial. Law enforcement instructed them to lie if asked. The couple also said they felt pressured to comply because officers threatened to deport their son.
After the bombshell revelation, the Utah Supreme Court issued a new opinion on the case.
“We hold that there exists a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the outcome of the trial would have been different but for the absence of the evidence,” the court opinion reads.
Tovers’ testimony was pivotal in Carter’s sentencing because prosecutors alleged he told them he was going to rape Olesen before killing her. The case will now be sent back to a district court where a judge will hold an evidentiary hearing. A court date has not been set.