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. Susan

    I see a criminal who should have been executed 25 years ago. Who cares how he is executed. He certainly didnt give a damn about the human being he murdered.

    April 24, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mary-MI

    A lot of people do not believe in the death penalty and will throw out bible verses to prove their point. The are more than 25 reasons in the bible that a person can be stoned to death for. The bible itself condones executions, but there are rules that the bible also lays out must be followed. If you are not getting some reward or pleasure out of killing a condemned person then you are not murdering them. It is a fact of life that people who have commited atrocious crimes should be put to death ASAP and not allowed to milk society. This is according to the Christian bible. All religious bibles allow for you to kill people that have done something to deserve it. It is a legitimate punishment and should not be stopped. I think a condemned person should be allowed to pick their own execution style.

    April 24, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. Word_UP!

    I think he should be burried in the ground up to his neck, have his head covered in honey, and susequently consumed (veeeeery slowly) by fire ants! That would give him plenty of time to think about what he had done when he killed an innocent person.

    April 24, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Steve

    Using a firing squad is an embarrassment for Utah. Period. Just reinforces the recidivism of the state. Cowboy yahoos who don't know they're in the 21st century.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CE

    Wow, what a country of ignorants/ignorance we are...I would love to meet all the gunslingers who think we should execute people like China does. Not sure how emulating China would work for those folks; but I'm pretty sure you could throw out most of the Bill of Rights, especially the 1st and 2nd Amendments. After all it would be less expensive; but then I remeber how many follks argued that "Freedom isn't free" 7 years ago. Great thing about the U.S. is that these folks get to say things that identify themselves as morons that have watched too many movies. Also, to those of you that still believe that execution is a deterrent to irrational/homocidal criminal behavior I have a question for you. Is the murder rate greater than the national average or lower than the national average in the top ten executing states that have the death penalty in place? If you answered higher you'd be right. And since the death penalty has been around for quite awhile I think that we can conclude that the death penalty hasn't been too effective as a deterrent. God Bless America and Free Speech!

    April 24, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Brian

    They should execute him with blank ammunition. That's how Dostoyevsky was "executed" by the Czars.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mj

    If I am not mistaken, the firing squad is comprised of five shooters. Only one shooter, however, has a live round in his weapon. The four others have blanks. Therefore, no one knows who actually killed the bum.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. David

    People are worried about the mental effect on the cops on the firing squad? How about finding volunteers to do the job, I'm sure you will find many people willing to put a bullet in this guys head. This guy murdered someone cold blooded, i think this is a good way for him to go without costing the state anymore tax payers money.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. PoopyMcpooperstein

    He does not need to be shown what is right and wrong, he is going to be dead. Your argument is invalid.

    Seems like you may have skimmed and not read the article. This guy killed an attorney while trying to escape a courthouse. They mentioned the other guy who killed the girl only because he chose firing squad as well.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. BurghBeagle

    Shoot the lawyer too! This is probably one of the most humane ways of executing someone. One good placed shot to the head and he'll be dead before he hits the ground...quick, painless, and cheap! I'll pay for all the bullets necessary to clear out all the death row inmates in this great nation, it's SICK how much we spend as taxpayers on these scumbags, SHOOT 'EM ALL!!!!!

    April 24, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ken East

    I am always shocked at the ignorance of the masses. The firing squad exists only in Utah for a very specific reason. Mormons require blood for blood atonement. Gary Gilmore was a Mormon and chose the firing squad for that very reason. Don't know about this guy but in Utah it is certainly a possibility. And you guys want to support Mitt Romeney for president?

    April 24, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. HappyVeteran

    The man only wants to attract attention to him, so the execution can be postponed. Just hang the guy. It's cheaper than using bullets. He will suffer only a little compared to the suffering he caused to his victim's family.

    Come to think of it, maybe we should hang all death row inmates, or get them beheaded. Ropes and blades can be used multiple times and require little maintenance.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MW

    " it allows all involved to avoid taking real responsibility and brings no gratification, forgiveness or closure."


    Your an idiot...sure it doens't bring back the one they lost, but it does give closure in the fact that the person that committed the crime, not only gets what he deserves, but to also make sure no one else suffers.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mr McGruff

    I could only make it half way through the comments, but several of you don't know how to read. They guy who raped and murdered an 11 year old girl died in 1996 by firing squad. I think this guy tried to escape from a courthouse, killed a lawyer and hurt someone else. I agree there should be no apeals since he was caught in the act. If we carried out the death sentence 30 days after someone is convicted innocent people would end up dying. There are people wrongly sent to prison and put on death row, that is why there are appeals. Although no system is perfect and this guy, like many others are abusing it.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Trace

    For those of you who say we shouldn't be feeding him anymore take a look at how much it cost to execute an inmate and how much it costs to house an inmate. I did a study on this and found that it actually cost more to execute than to house for a lifetime. So killing is wrong all together and its a waist of money to execute.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
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