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Utah to execute condemned killer by firing squad

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http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jcG2jswjiPsecYqOzl7rOOqwVE6AD9GDFG100

 

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is set to execute a condemned killer by firing squad shortly after midnight Thursday, reviving a style of justice that hasn't been used for at least 14 years and that many criticize as archaic.

Barring an unexpected last-minute reprieve, Ronnie Lee Gardner will be strapped into a chair, have a target pinned over his heart and die in a hail of bullets from five anonymous marksmen armed with .30-caliber rifles and firing from behind a ported wall.

A flurry of last-minute appeals and requests for stays were rejected Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Gov. Gary Herbert.

The Supreme Court turned down three appeals late Thursday, although one of its orders showed that two justices, Stephen Breyer and John Paul Stevens, would have granted Gardner's request for a stay.

"We are disappointed with the court's decisions, declining to hear Mr. Gardner's case," one of his attorneys, Megan Moriarty, said in a statement to The Associated Press. "It's unfair that he will be executed without a full and fair review of his case."

Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke said there were no pending issues left for the courts.

After the Washington, D.C.-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called for a stay of Gardner's execution Thursday, Gardner's attorneys submitted a second request for a stay to Herbert. Herbert denied it, saying Gardner has had "the opportunity to have his arguments fully and fairly considered."

After a visit with his family, Gardner was moved from his regular cell in a maximum-security wing of the Utah State Prison to an observation cell Wednesday night, Department of Corrections officials said.

On Thursday, they said Gardner was spending time sleeping, reading the novel "Divine Justice," watching the "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy and meeting with his attorneys and a bishop from the Mormon church. Gehrke said officers described his mood as relaxed.

Although officials had said he planned to fast after having his last requested meal Tuesday, Gardner drank a Coke and a Mountain Dew on Thursday night. His Tuesday meal consisted of steak, lobster tail, apple pie, vanilla ice cream and 7UP.

Attorney Andrew Parnes, who has represented Gardner for 12 years, had his last visit with Gardner around 10 p.m. MDT. Parnes said Gardner was focused on other people and programs he wanted to start, including one for at-risk youth.

"He's concerned about how his family is doing. He's concerned about how I'm doing," Parnes said. "He's just really strong. Now is that bravado? I don't know."

Gardner will be the third man killed by firing squad in the U.S. since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling reinstated capital punishment in 1976. Although Utah altered its death penalty law in 2004 to make lethal injection the default method, nine inmates convicted before that date, including Gardner, can still choose the firing squad instead.

Gardner's attorney said the decision was based on preference — not a desire to embarrass the state or draw publicity to his case.

Members of Gardner's family gathered outside the prison Thursday, some wearing T-shirts displaying his prisoner number, 14873. None planned to witness the execution, at Gardner's request.

"He didn't want nobody to see him get shot," said Gardner's brother, Randy Gardner. "I would have liked to be there for him. I love him to death. He's my little brother."

Gardner, 49, was sentenced to death for a 1985 capital murder conviction stemming from the fatal courthouse shooting of attorney Michael Burdell during an escape attempt. Gardner was at the court because he faced a 1984 murder charge in the shooting death of bartender Melvyn Otterstrom.

Gardner made a final effort to convince the world he was a changed man, speaking emotionally in court of his desire to start a 160-acre organic farm and program for at-risk youth. He acknowledged his own tortured trajectory to a parole board last week, saying: "It would have been a miracle if I didn't end up here."

Gardner first came to the attention of authorities at age 2 as he was found walking alone on a street clad only in a diaper. At age 6 he became addicted to sniffing gasoline and glue. Harder drugs — LSD and heroin — followed by age 10. By then, Gardner was tagging along with his stepfather as a lookout on robberies, according to court documents.

After spending 18 months in a state mental hospital and being sexually abused in a foster home, he killed Otterstrom at age 23. About six months later, at 24, he shot Burdell in the face as the attorney hid behind a door in the courthouse.

"I had a very explosive temper," Gardner said last week. "Even my mom said it was like I had two personalities."

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday decried Gardner's imminent execution as an example of what it called the United States' "barbaric, arbitrary and bankrupting practice of capital punishment."

At an interfaith vigil in Salt Lake City on Thursday evening, religious leaders called for an end to the death penalty.

"Murdering the murderer doesn't create justice or settle any score," said Rev. Tom Goldsmith of the First Unitarian Church.

Some doubt that Gardner is, or could ever be, reformed.

Tami Stewart's father, George "Nick" Kirk, was a bailiff who was shot and wounded in Gardner's botched escape. Kirk suffered chronic health problems until his death in 1995 and became frustrated by the lack of justice that Gardner's years of appeals afforded him, Stewart said.

She said she's not happy about the idea of Gardner's death but believes it will bring her family some closure.

"I think at that moment, he will feel that fear that his victims felt," Stewart said.

Burdell's father, Joseph Burdell Jr., said Gardner's desire to help troubled kids was proof that some transformation has come.

"I understand that he wants to apologize. I think it would be difficult for him," he said by phone Tuesday from his Cary, N.C., home. "Twenty-five years is a long time. He's not the same man."

At his commutation hearing, Gardner shed a tear after telling the board his attempts to apologize to the Otterstroms and Kirks had been unsuccessful. He said he hoped for forgiveness.

"If someone hates me for 20 years, it's going to affect them," Gardner said. "I know killing me is going to hurt them just as bad. It's something you have to live with every day. You can't get away from it. I've been on the other side of the gun. I know."

Associated Press Writer Paul Foy contributed to this report.

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wtf. dude CHOSE death by firing squad!

 

 

yeah...he was on the news a few months ago...he chose death by firing squad for two reasons:

 

1. its still allowed in utah

2. he said something to the effect of i dont want to die by lethal injection...thats what they do to put down dogs.

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wtf. dude CHOSE death by firing squad!

 

sounds better than lethal injection

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why not just put his ass in a sports car, tie a rope around his neck, and the other end around a tree and throw a cinderblock on the pedal.

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the dude was sniffing glue at age 6, of course he's gonna be messed up

 

picture-13.png

 

i guess im a pussy cuz id rather die like a dog and take a lethal injection..:(

but yea dudes badass

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wtf. dude CHOSE death by firing squad!

 

the man has class freak nigga, id do the same:)

 

fucka 240v chair or a pussy syringe.

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Wouldnt be surprised if it was televised on Fox news.

 

whatya mean thats the most un biased network on tv. :lol:

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Firing squad is easily the best way to be executed.

Ya'll think it's like the movies where he's tied to a pole 20 yards away and they all just blast at him?

 

It works like this...

They gather up the firing squad and they all get a round of ammo.

ONE person's round is a blank.

They all aim through a hole in a barrier at the man's heart and fire upon orders.

Dude dies and none of them ever know who was the one who had the blank so they all go about their lives hoping they were the one who didn't actually shoot the guy.

 

It's much more humane for everyone involved, but still stupid because killing someone for killing someone else is a stupid way to prove it was a bad thing to do.

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He's dead, as of a few mins ago.

 

 

Firing squads in the United States

 

Main article: Capital punishment in the United States

According to Espy and Smylka[22] it is estimated that 142 men have been judicially shot in the United States and English-speaking predecessor territories since 1608, excluding executions related to the American Civil War. The Civil War saw several hundred firing squad deaths, but reliable numbers are not available. Crimes punishable by firing squad in the Civil War included desertion, intentionally killing a superior officer or fellow soldier, and espionage.[citation needed]

Capital punishment was suspended in the United States between 1972 and 1976, as a result of several decisions of the United States Supreme Court (Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238). The process resumed with the execution of Gary Gilmore on January 17, 1977, at Utah State Prison in Draper. In Utah, the firing squad consists of five volunteer law enforcement officers [23][24] from the county in which the conviction of the offender took place.[citation needed] The five executioners were equipped with .30-30 caliber rifles and off-the-shelf Winchester 150 grain (9.7 g) SilverTip ammunition. The condemned was restrained and hooded, and the shots were fired at a distance of 20 feet (6 m), aiming at the chest. According to his brother Mikal Gilmore's memoir Shot in the Heart, Utah's tradition dictated that a firing squad comprise four men with live rounds, and one with a blank round, so that each of the shooters could cast doubt to having fired a fatal shot. However, upon inspecting the clothes worn by Gary Gilmore at his execution, Mikal noticed five holes in the shirt — indicating, he wrote, that "the state of Utah, apparently, had taken no chances on the morning that it put my brother to death"

The second post-Furman execution by firing squad, that of John Albert Taylor in 1996, also took place in Utah. Taylor reportedly chose this method of execution, in the word of the New York Times, "to make a statement that Utah was sanctioning murder."[25] However, an article for the British newspaper The Times, written fourteen years after his execution, quotes Taylor justifying his choice because he did not want to "flop around like a dying fish" under lethal injection. [26]

A law passed on March 15, 2004, banned execution by firing squad in Utah, but since that specific law was not retroactive,[27] four inmates (one, Roberto Arguelles died of natural causes on death row, leaving only three) on Utah's death row could still have their last requests granted. Thereof, on April 21, 2010, Ronnie Lee Gardner requested a firing squad execution which was scheduled for June 18, 2010. A Utah judge signed a death warrant Friday, April 23, 2010, affirming Utah's sentence for the execution of Gardner. Gardner's lawyer said he planned to file an appeal, which could change the execution date. Gardner was sentenced to die in 1985 for a botched escape attempt on April 2, 1985, during which he shot and killed Michael Burdell, a defense attorney, and injured court bailiff George "Nick" Kirk. Gardner, in court on charges stemming from the 1984 robbery and shooting death of Melvyn John Otterstrom, used a gun that had been smuggled into the old Salt Lake County Courthouse by his girlfriend.

On April 1, 2009,[28] a bill to eliminate firing squad as a method of execution in Idaho was enacted, and took effect July 1, 2009. As of 2010, Oklahoma is the only other state in which execution by firing squad is legally available, though as a backup method only, in case both lethal injection -- the state's primary method of execution -- and electrocution are regarded unconstitutional. [27]

On June 18, 2010, Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by firing squad in Utah state prison at 12:20:25 AM (MT) as the third convict executed by this method after Furman vs Georgia.

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Firing squad is easily the best way to be executed.

Ya'll think it's like the movies where he's tied to a pole 20 yards away and they all just blast at him?

 

It works like this...

They gather up the firing squad and they all get a round of ammo.

ONE person's round is a blank.

They all aim through a hole in a barrier at the man's heart and fire upon orders.

Dude dies and none of them ever know who was the one who had the blank so they all go about their lives hoping they were the one who didn't actually shoot the guy.

 

It's much more humane for everyone involved, but still stupid because killing someone for killing someone else is a stupid way to prove it was a bad thing to do.

 

 

IF you have ever fired a weapon with both blank rounds and live rounds you know full well whether you've just fired a bullet as opposed to hot air.

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I read somewhere that it was a wax bullet.

Don't know if that makes any difference.

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wouldnt a headshot be better? shot in the heart?

 

or maybe head/heart

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so hes only killed 2 people?

 

People have gotten the death penalty for killing one...historically speaking, people in the United States (20th century nonetheless) have been executed without having killed anybody.

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wtf. dude CHOSE death by firing squad!

 

i'd choose that over lethal injection

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