Utah Supreme Court denies inmate appeal

The Utah Supreme Court has denied an appeal filed by a man convicted of aggravated murder in 2007. Anthony James Prater, 32, is serving a life prison sentence without the opportunity for parole for firing eight shots at 35-year old Vincent Samora, striking him in the back, on Nov. 27, 2007 in retaliation for testimony given in court against Prater's former cellmate Christopher M. Archuleta. Samora was in a vehicle in the driveway of his mother's home in Salt Lake City at the time. A woman next to him in the vehicle was not injured.

Prater's conviction will remain standing despite his appeal. Prater argued that three of the witnesses in his case were "inherently improbable" when they all said Prater openly confessed the murder to them. However, the state Supreme Court's ruled against Prater's argument, stating that it didn't "come within shouting distance" of proving they were blatantly unreliable. They further went on to explain that Prater had been searching for Samora for months.

Apart from forensic evidence tying Prater to the murder, testimony from one of the witnesses who was in the car with Prater at the time of the shooting. That witness later pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case and was sentenced in 2013 to five years of probation and was given credit for nearly four year' time spent behind bars. However, his probation was eventually revoked in 2014 and his original sentence of four to 20 years in prison was reinstated.

In addition to the aggravated murder charge, Prater was also convicted of second-degree felony obstruction of justice and five counts of discharging a firearm from a vehicle, a third-degree felony. He was sentenced to five concurrent sentences of three to five years in prison for the firearm counts, to run consecutively with his life sentence. His sentence for obstruction runs concurrently with life sentence.

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