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. Tristan Isol

    I see a man with 5 more holes in his body.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. azezel

    We are a bankrupt nation. Why do we pay 40k a year to house 3 million people? That is 120 billion dollars a year just to detain people. That is nearly 4 million people that could be participating in a real physical economy producing things. Then there are the millions more who are in halfway houses and under house arrest as well as on probation. Our justice system is broken and it is ruining our nation.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Eggman54

    Half the people on this thread misread the article and ranted about rapist scum needing to suffer (Garder killed a lawyer in a courtroom escape attempt) and the other half went off on their own rant about unrelated politics. It seems a sign of the times. Learn to read and think for yourself. Stop being brainwashed by MSNBC, CNN, Fox News etc. If you only get half the facts, you are fully wrong.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John

    It's probably all the RC's that don't want this guy killed. He is their hero!

    April 24, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Leech

    they should shoot him in knee and see how long it takes him to die... i don't think he would maintain that silly smerk..

    April 24, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Contrary

    He shot an officer of the court. Sweet Jesus, are the comments above relating to a rape mentioned in the article by a previous death row gonner proof that a jury of our peers now includes people who can't read? HE SHOT THE SHERRIF, HE DID NOT SHOOT THE DEPUTY is the song they should be singing. Anyway, the death penalty is barbaric, but so are the criminals.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Linda

    How about let this man die a slow a painful death by slowly sawing off each member off his body. it will give him a chance to cry out and repent to God for murdering people.
    You saved his soul and made him reap what he sowed.

    April 24, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jeremy

    I think he should be tortured and raped by other death row inmates and then during the rape unload on all of them getting rid of em all anyone that does that to a child should get a slow very painfull death I would volinteer and wouldn't loose a sleep over it

    April 24, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. what is wrong with you people

    i dont like repeat offenders. i like dead offenders. if your against the death penelty, you obviously havent had one of these scumbags hurt someone close to you...YET

    April 24, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Yar

    Wow – is he actually smirking in the photo? Anyway, this seems like a pretty clean death penalty case. The death penalty debate gets off track by arguing about whether it is right or wrong to kill bad guys. Killing bad guys is not the problem at all. The problem is based on the following two statements that I'm sure most everyone can agree on. 1) Our justice system is not perfect. 2) Killing *innocent* people is wrong. If you accept #1 then at some low rate we make mistakes and convict innocent people of crimes, including ones punishable by death. Add basic morality in #2 and killing them is the worst thing we can do. If we keep them alive and lock them up forever – if they are really innocent there is a chance evidence will be found to absolve them of the crime some day. A wrongful imprisonment can at least be compensated with $$, a wrongful execution is much harder to compensate.

    April 24, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Yar

    Oh and to address the idea that you can somehow "make sure" the bad guy is really gulity – – you can't. In every case where there is a guilty verdict, by definition, the court THINKS the bad guy is bad. A priori, we do not know which ones are actually innocent – if we did, that would be called reasonable doubt. In every case, the ones who are actually innocent will be convicted by a jury that is *convinced* otherwise. Only new evidence (if ever found) will reveal the mistake.

    April 24, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. A.Turing

    Illinois has had dozens of men found "guilty beyond reasonable doubt" for murder and later found to be actually innocent via modern testing methods. Do other states possess infinitely wise judges and juries that don't exist in Illinois?

    How can any individual think killing is bad when their own government supports it? A government must rise to a much higher level than its citizens. This also includes protecting the rights of minorities REGARDLESS of popular consensus (determining the love between 2 people is not something you vote on).

    There is no room in a modern society for the taking of a life, especially one so flawed as ours. The ability to issue an absolute solution from a society so imperfect is morally wrong.

    I really don't care if the American plague of laziness causes their children to be fat and allowing their corporations to rule their congress, but don't ever be lazy when anyone's life is in your hands. That is just pure evil.

    Based on just the high percentage of their population in prison (compared to all other countries), America is doing something terribly wrong, and they're totally clueless to a solution. Amazing.

    Laziness has bred evil, blindness and a cold heart.
    Hopefully, the rest of the world is learning for this mistake.

    April 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. james

    who cares how he dies just as long as he does.

    April 24, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Thom

    sob, sob...those who defend the murderer against the use of the death penalty are the first to stand up for abortions. This is a sick society - the definition of innocence has been warped.

    April 24, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Curtis

    I just don't see how a country that attempts to support peace and reconcilliation can agree to take another human life. The death penalty only offers revenge and not reconcilliation. Is this how we want our children to grow up?

    April 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
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