OGDEN -- At its Thursday news conference, the Utah Attorney General's Office released a letter signed by 26 of Utah's 29 county attorneys in support of the office's appeal of Debra Brown's exoneration for a 1993 murder. Missing among the 26 signatures was that of Weber County Attorney Dee Smith.
Brown spent more than 16 years in prison before she was ordered released May 9 by Ogden 2nd District Judge Michael DiReda.
His friendship with DiReda "didn't have anything to do with it," Smith said.
He said he hasn't even read DiReda's 47-page ruling that released Brown, the first case to go to trial under Utah's three-year-old Factual Innocence statute.
"There were a couple of things that weighed pretty heavily when I was asked to sign," he said. "I don't know enough about the case ... so I can't really say if the ruling was correct or not."
At the same time, Smith said, it is new law and should have some appellate review.
"But I think it's important for us as prosecutors that the public have confidence that we are out to see that justice is done, however that may be, that we're not only interested in guilty verdicts," he said.
"I just personally felt I needed to be careful, since I don't know the intimate details of the case, rather than just throw my name behind the appeal."
Among those who signed were Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings and Box Elder County Attorney Stephen Hadfield.
In addition to Smith, Morgan County Attorney Jann Farris and Rich County Attorney George W. Preston did not sign the letter.