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. Randy

    You know,I think it's funny that people call it "murder" when a man,whom is guilty of murder beyond all reasonable doubt,is executed for his/her crime.I only wish that these people could go to the crime scenes that these animals have perpetrated.Then,afterwards go and listen to how the victim's families lives have been forever changed by the trauma. Then,I'd like to see if they can still tell me afterwards that they think that what the state does to get rid of these animals is murder.Did these animal's victims get the opportunity for a humane death?No,more often than not!

    April 24, 2010 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jose

    Something for all that oppose his request...if he had done this to your child, would you still be against it? I didnt think so! The only thing that disgusts me is how long it has taken..

    April 24, 2010 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. Frank

    In Capital Murder Cases the Punishment should be the same as the crime

    April 24, 2010 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. Aculeius13

    I don't think that the death penalty is unconstitutional, or morally wrong. Whether it's practical or even a good idea is another question. I think it needs to be reserved for the worst of the worst, but whether killing someone during an escape attempt meets that standard seems doubtful to me.

    I do think that condemned men are entitled to a method of execution that's as painless and dignified as possible. If they're going to pay with their lives, they're at least entitled to that. Some form of lethal injection probably is the best way to achieve that, but I'm not convinced that firing squad, or even hanging, are necessarily inhumane or undignified. So if that's how an inmate wants to die (should all his appeals fail), he ought to be given that choice.

    April 24, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  5. John

    China,Iran,Iraq,Saudi Arabia,Yemen and the USA the top 6 state sponsored executioners of their own citizens,would not trust any of them.The gutter trash should be left to rot for the rest of his days.

    April 24, 2010 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. JS

    It's stunning to read these comments...not so much because of their content, but because so many of them clearly indicate the commenter did not even read the article. The current case is about Gardner, who shot someone...not about Taylor, who raped an 11-year-old girl. If you can't get those simple facts right, your rants about the pros and cons of the methods of execution used on a killer are not worth reading.

    April 24, 2010 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. CaptainK

    By injection, firing squad, hanging...Who cares? He will be execution anyway. One less bad animal on this earth...

    April 24, 2010 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. Stephen

    He chose it to embarrass the state? Good for him. If that is what he feels like he needs to convince himself of before he dies then good. But at the end of the day you're going to be dead and gone so I am willing to trade the "embarrassment" that you figure I will feel for you not breathing my air any longer. Have a happy next life!!!

    April 24, 2010 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. Palmer

    Death Penalty is typical of a morally bankrupt country like the USA. Take a look at the countries that the USA is keeping company with by maintaining the death penalty.

    April 24, 2010 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. TLayne

    I am so tired of listening to people cry about the "rights" of rapists and murderers. Firing squad is too easy. I think we should do like Rome did. Throw these low life scumbags into an arena with a trained gladiator and lets have some good old hack & slash. Then maybe these animals will think twice before they commit these types of crimes. If you murder and rape a child you are not human. Of course we would have to put them in the arena in a timely fashion... not 20+ years later.

    April 24, 2010 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  11. Robert G

    People, Please do some research on the firing squad. A lot of you have questions and some are being answered. Dont just believe what you read on message boards because it could be people just spouting off. There are a lot of opinions on here but little facts. I suggest you all take 5 minutes and read about the history and such.

    April 24, 2010 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. Robert G

    One of the reasons the process is so long is so that the state does not execute an innocent person. I know in this case its obvious but there are hundreds of others around the country where the innocent person is jailed and later freed due to dna evidence. I think (and its my opinion just like you all have your own) that the process should take a long time with lengthy appeals. Once you kill a person you cant go back and say "Oops, sorry we had the wrong person". If you are going to execute a man make sure he is guilty of the crime through the processes in place. We have our due process and appeals for a reason.

    April 24, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. sweets

    Yes maybe his life should be taken as he took someone elses !But he was convicted in 1985 , so why wasn't the execution done at that time?No , he isn't innocent but waiting 25 years to get his real punishment is quite ridiculous .This crime was comitted ages ago and the punishment should have been done there and then ,waiting 25 years isn't showing him whats wrong and whats right.

    April 24, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  14. freewilly

    I say let him go. He already spent 25 years in prison. It's not like he raped the people before he killed them. We should let him live amongst us.

    April 24, 2010 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. DC

    For those of you against the death penalty, I understand your point. But wait until it's your mother or daughter or son or someone you care about. They sit in a cell for the rest of their lives knowing they took a life, knowing they got away with it and you help pay for their hotel (jail cell) for the rest of their lives. I believe in the old saying an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Better the government get a hold of them before I do.

    April 24, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
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