Utah AG flip-flops, appeals woman's prison release

May 26, 2011 - 11:59 AM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah's attorney general has changed course on a previous decision not to appeal the release of an inmate serving life for murder.

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says he will appeal to make sure the justice system doesn't "become fatally flawed."

Debra Brown was freed on May 9 after a judge found the 53-year-old innocent of a 1993 murder. She was the first inmate exonerated under a 2008 Utah law allowing judges to reconsider convictions on new factual — not scientific — evidence.

At the time, Shurtleff said he wouldn't appeal "in the interest of justice and mercy."

He now says his office is defending 10 petitions filed under the same law and worries the ruling in Brown's case could "open the floodgates" for similar filings.