April 23rd, 2010
03:35 PM ET

Utah man chooses firing squad for execution

A Utah judge signed a death warrant Friday allowing the state to execute Ronnie Lee Gardner using a five-man firing squad, a spokeswoman for the Utah's state court system told CNN.

Before signing the death warrant, Third District Judge Robin Reese asked Gardner if he wanted to be executed by the method he had chosen previously, spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said.

"I would like the firing squad, please," Gardner replied.

It would be the state's first use of the firing squad since 1996, when John Albert Taylor was executed for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. Taylor said he chose the method to embarrass Utah, which at the time was the only state that offered the firing squad as an option.

Gardner's execution date was set for June 18, 2010. However, Gardner's lawyer said he planned to file an appeal, which could change the date, Volmer said. Gardner was convicted of murder in the 1985 killing of an attorney during a courthouse escape attempt.

A change in Utah's law took the firing squad away as an execution option. But inmates, like Gardner, who have already chosen the firing squad can still be executed that way, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Oklahoma offers the firing squad as an option - but only if lethal injection and electrocution are later found to be unconstitutional, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The country's most famous execution by firing squad was when Gary Gilmore was killed using a firing squad in 1977. Asked for any last words before guns were fired, Gilmore replied: "Let's do it!"

His execution was also the inspiration for Norman Mailer's book "The Executioner's Song."

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Filed under: Justice • U.S.
soundoff (274 Responses)
  1. Jerri

    To all those commenting that Gardner chose the firing squad to embarrass Utah, please read again. It was the other guy, TAYLOR who did that & he's been dead since 1996.

    April 24, 2010 at 6:39 am | Report abuse |
  2. Kira

    I'm glad some states are getting rid of the garbage. And for all the bleeding hearts out there who think that these guys don't deserve the death penalty, why don't you let them move into your neighborhoods so that you can "reform" them and make them law abiding people. Let your families take them in and deal with them.

    April 24, 2010 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
  3. Vee

    Too bad religion is still part of this argument. Death as 'punishment' is stupid and puts the state in league with the criminals, it's too easy. Locking him up for the rest of his natural life, feeding him porridge, baloney and jello for the next 50 years, is much worse than allowing him the liberty which is provided in death.

    April 24, 2010 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. Enoch

    This is pitiful. I see several posts by people confusing John Albert Taylor with Ronnie Lee Gardner.

    It isn't rocket science, people. It is reading comprehension.

    Taylor is dead. He raped the 11yo girl. He chose a firing squad to "embarrass" Utah. You won't be able to be on his firing squad. It already happened.

    Gardner is to be executed on 18 Jun 2010. He killed an attorney during a courthouse escape attempt. He did not rape and kill an 11 yo girl.

    The comprehension level just saddens me.

    April 24, 2010 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. Notyomama

    He was NOT the murderer and rapist of an 11 year old girl. He killed a lawyer. Go back and read the article. I wonder if that changes anyone's views on the subject. I for one don't think he should have a choice. The state should just tell him he is going to die, and inform him of the manner of death at the time of his death.

    April 24, 2010 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
  6. GiveMeThatFish

    I am a former anti-death penalty attorney. While I feel the death penalty is wrong, the firing squad is the most humane method there is to carry out this awful sentence. If I were this man, I'd choose the same.

    April 24, 2010 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. voice from New Jersey

    If It had been my eleven year old daughter as in the first murder with Taylor, or my father or husband, as with the attorney Gardner killed,I know my life would be forever changed and the pain and suffering caused my these men would endure utill I took my last breath.
    Gardner may be put to death, but it in no way will bring back the life he took.
    I personally do not believe in the death penalty. I believe that the only one who can create life and should be able to take it is God. I am not saying that if I were a loved one of either of these men's victims I would have the feelings of anger and rage that would make me "want" to see them put to death, I am sure I would. But it is my belief, and I stress, only mine, that I too would have blood on my hands by sanctioning the execution.
    Let Gardner destroy what God has created Let God deal with Gardner on His own time, in His own way. I choose not to agree to kill Human Being. They may have made me jury but, no one made me God.

    As for the money to keep them incarcerated...all part of the cost of a civilized society.

    April 24, 2010 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. Goss

    The funny thing is that the firing squad is much more humane and a quicker way to die. I'm not sure why more states don't allow it. Five rifles pointed at you and firing is instant.

    April 24, 2010 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    He did it wrong. When asked how he wanted to die, he should have said, "Old age, please." Idiot.

    April 24, 2010 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
  10. DStrope

    I say the firing squad is the second best choice, should hang em along with all the child/adult rapist and murderers

    April 24, 2010 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  11. Peanut

    GREAT... This should only cost the state a few bucks for the whole thing if they do it right...They should make him dig hos own grave as well that way you only have to backfill the dirt and the labor is less.

    Blindfold- $5,00
    30/06 Round $1.00
    Executing a scumbag-priceless

    1985 he did the crime and dies in 2010... what the hell is wrong with that picture.

    April 24, 2010 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. Karl

    This guys is a hero!! Lawyers are crooks.

    April 24, 2010 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  13. dude2010

    I say great, give him the firing squad, just don't make it quick. Start at the feet and hands and work your way towards the middle of the body......

    April 24, 2010 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. Steve

    Not meaning to divert attention to the trees while missing the forest, but...some of the people here are misreading the column entirely. "Taylor" wanted to embarrass Utah by choosing the death penalty. "Let him have it then...hope he feels every bullet." This is not Taylor, this is Gardner. Taylor's death already took place in the 90's, the article only brings up his name because he was the last executed by firing squad in Utah. Second, "rape and murder of an 11 year old, he deserves to die"...again, that was Taylor who has already been executed, not this guy, not Gardner. This guy killed a lawyer during an escape attempt.

    And, no, not a diversion, but those were really significant misreads for a pretty straightforward article. I am pro-death penalty, especially in certain cases such as the death of an 11 year old child, but I'm not nearly as adamant about whether this guy gets death, life in prison, the chair, lethal injection, or the firing squad.

    And why does anyone care whether the guy gets to choose the modality of death? All methods are going to be essentially fast and painless...what's the difference in the mechanism?

    April 24, 2010 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. amcitizen

    why should this man get to chose anything? He is a criminal. We are so worried today about making sure our criminals are comfortable. I have to worry about bills and feeding my children while a killer gets three meals a day, tv, exercise equipment, and gets choices? Why are more people not upset by this? I can see why the morals and values in America have declined.

    April 24, 2010 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
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