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. Madness

    God bless the death penalty.

    April 24, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jared D

    Interesting. The man chooses a method of death that makes the executioner(s) directly responsible. No pulling a lever, no flipping a switch or pressing a button. Now each of them has to take aim, and fire.

    To me this is far scarier and scarring to everyone involved, and a much more effective crime deterrent.

    April 24, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. T

    To those who are say the death penalty is wrong...ask yourself this.. weren't the actions that took place for the inmate to be on death row wrong as well? I personally think it is wrong to take INNOCENT lives of hard working citizens, just to have the person who committed the crime sit behind bars on MY taxes. if it were up to me, there would be no waiting around.if it is proven without a shadow of doubt that the inmate is guilty, then death should be immediate. as in high noon the next day. stop feeling sorry for the people who are raping, murdering it should be .an eye for an eye.would you feel the same about this if it were YOUR family? By the way. it cost alot more to have the person to sit behind bars for years upon yeats in an OVERCROWDED prison.

    April 24, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. 25

    I see a guy who lived 25 years longer than his victim.

    April 24, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. i think

    i dont think that is embarrassin to utah, the lethal injection is like a dream death, they should stick to squad firing team, hung, and electrocuted. I am sure they didnt offered a peaceful death to their victims.

    April 24, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Debbie

    Firing squad, lethal injection, the Chair.....whatever! He did the crime, it's time to ante up. One less person Utah has to support. I bet his victim had no choices when he killed him.

    April 24, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Erin

    For those of you proclaiming this as murder. You would be wrong. These are the worst of the worst. These are the ones who should never be allowed to walk among another human being again. Not even in the general population of a prison, not among the guards, not among the cockroaches who scavenge to floors. The death penalty is not a deterrent, it is not a punishment, it is the last choice. There are some people who are so sick, who are so incorrigible, who are so repugnant to humanity that it would be a crime against the people to allow them to live.

    Someone brought you into this world, if you victimize our citizenry, innocent lives, or our communities; someone will take you out. As it should be. Not ALL life is sacred. Let's not forget that these people would slit your throat and step over your dead body. They wouldn't give you another thought. You were a tool, a method to achieve an end, and now you are a disposable obstacle. They do not revere and hold sacred life or our communities. You defend those who would kill you in the blink of an eye.

    April 24, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Justice

    @ousooners comment: I believe the oficers in the firing squad only have one guy with "live" bullets. The rest are shooting blanks so keep the cops from knowing who is going to actually kill the guy. But I bet "big brother" knows sho go the live bullets. That record is burried is area 54 no doubt or TMZ has it. Either way, he is saving the tax payers money.

    April 24, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bill V

    It was wrong for Lee Gardner to kill an 11-year old girl, just as it will be wrong for the Sate of Utah to kill Lee Gardner, and just as it is wrong for doctors to kill unborn babies. Life is sacred, no matter what the argument. Thou shalt not kill!

    April 24, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. James Geriman

    Send his family a bill for the bullets.

    April 24, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jack

    He offed a lawyer? They should give him a medal.

    April 24, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Zeke

    Life's all about choices,his decision to commit muurder ended his ability to make rational any further rational choice.
    as to the method of execution,this shoudn't matter,but,I do feel an eye for an eye is worthy!!!

    April 24, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DB is an idiot

    Hahaha DB Im glad you used your brain
    Because the amount of tax dollars that goes to pay and support the scum of the Earth is good right?
    Yea because if I go out and blow away 10 people then get life in prison thats not 30+ years of feading, clothing, and housing me right?
    So yea let the scum die...

    April 25, 2010 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. EliteSack

    So do the five on the squad all aim for his head? Cuz i know that even if a bullet completley explodes your heart your still going to be alive for a minute or two just suffering.

    April 25, 2010 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  15. BAMCIS

    i'll volunteer to pull the trigger. honestly. and ill even sign a waiver to not complain or try to sue for being traumatized down the road.

    April 25, 2010 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
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