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. Kate

    This really should embarrass Utah. You can be executed by firing squad? And we're invading other countries for their policies? Yuck.

    April 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jensen

    Personally, I think we ought to outsource our entire justice system to China. They know how to handle scum bags. We ought to do the same to all the guilty in the last financial meltdown. One bullet can end a corrupt person and prevent future victims.

    April 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. stefanie

    People posting these comments really need to read the story, not just glance at it. The man they are executing's name is Gardner, and he killed an attorney during a courthouse escape. The last person to be executed by firing squad before now was Taylor who chose that way to "embarrass Utah" and it was TAYLOR not GARDNER that raped and killed an 11 year old.

    April 24, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Smilinm1

    No mercy given, no mercy shown. Five bullets, cheap and effective. On to the next self centered criminal who has no respect for society and our laws.

    April 24, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. nagus

    hell with the firing squad....surprise him and bury him alive!!!!

    April 24, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SMM

    A life for a life...

    April 24, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Alton

    I worked for the Bureau of Prisons for 32 yrs. It is a FACT that it cost $ 45,000 per year to keep these little jewels incarcerated. And brother these places today are loaded to the brim. Mostly drugheads and drugs are MORE available in prisons than on the streets.

    It is MY opinion that when an inmate can be dubbed a life long recidivist, THEN she/he should be put to death. The question IS: what has the rest of us done wrong that WE should be taxed to feed, clothe, give medical and dental treatment to each citizen that can't refrain from breaking our laws ??? I can understand a period of repentance time in jail. BUT when an inmate time after time keeps doing the same thing, THEN what wrong with death for this individual ?? Lets simply put her/him OUT of their misery and a
    massive financial burden off of our backs. The argument by the do-gooders IS that some
    have later been proven not-guilty. Thats rare. BUT even so, no system will ever be PERFECT and the baby shouldn't be thrown out with the dirty soapy water.

    April 24, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nick

    Kate,
    In this country this guy choose this death and in this country he received a fair trial by jury.This is not what goes on in other countries. Yuck!

    April 24, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TLayne

    I think all the people taking about the rape and murder of the 11 year old girl are simply talking about criminals who should be put to death. It isn't so much which animal is being talking about as it is the topic of exeuting them. Do you really want to control crime and put a system into place that is a REAL deterrant to crime? Make the punishment fit the crime. If you kill someone in cold blood the the same should happen to you in the exact same way and make it public. Mr. Smirk at the top of the page killed his lawyer, we get that. So kill him the same way and make it public. No the justice system is not perfect by far but if these animals knew they were NOT going to go sit around for 25 years in a cell with three squares a day and yard time to exercise in a lot of them would THINK before killing, raping, and all the other terrible things that happen to innocent people. Crime rates would actually DROP and it would save countless peope's lives and heartache. But we can't have that can we? The bleeding heart's would rather cater to an animal. It is digusting how in our society it is the criminal who has all the rights and the victum has none. Call it revenge or whatever you want to call it. Just get it done. "LETS DO IT!"

    April 24, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. hunnydips

    They should do them all this way, within one week of conviction.

    April 24, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. LCW

    the death penalty is an ineffective deterrent, point blank... "People" still commit horrendous crimes regardless, even knowing if caught (depending on the state the crime was committed in), they may face death at the hands of the justice system. Again, the death penalty is an ineffective deterrent, History proves this... Bur so is prison for other crimes, so do we just do away with criminal justice/courts altogether? No!

    Case in point that advocates against the death penalty often overlook, because they are so focused and wrapped-around-the-axle on the ineffective deterrence point is that once the sentence is carried out, THAT individual is no longer alive and has a chance to harm another, or find a legal loop-hole to exploit,in order to escape justice when they are indeed guilty as charged and found in a court of law.

    the death penalty is an means to end of terror and is very effective on that note!

    April 24, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. james

    Firing squad or Lethal injection, either way you pay and the books are balanced.
    Fare thee well and Fond Adieu

    April 24, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mary

    You all are being cruel. I don't know what you believe, but don't go crazy on an open website where children can see. please, from a future mother

    April 24, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. anon

    The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state. This cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is done in the name of justice.

    It violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    April 24, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ryeder

    There is only one thing wrong with the death penalty. It costs too much. First plan, reduce the cost. Secondly, for those who find all life valuable, get real. When someone has a cancer, it is surgically remove to make life better for the individual. Snuffing these animals is societies way of removing a cancer.

    April 24, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
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