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. max

    Take this fellow to the soccer field, make him kneel down and shoot a bullet through his head so that the blood spatters out from the other side. It needn't cost so much as it does. Some of the Gitmo detainees could help. This fellow deserves to die for having killed a lawyer while escaping 25 years ago.

    April 25, 2010 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. JB

    Max, this can be a profitable business if you can sell tickets and media rights.

    April 25, 2010 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. bring on the justice

    So i've read a good many of these comments and one thing that I saw is that some of you dont quite know why this man was sentenced in the first place, this article doesnt mention it but Ronnie Lee Gardner killed Melvyn Otterstrom a bartender in salt lake city, at his trial he was slipped a gun by his girlfriend which he used to shot Michael Burdell an attorney and also shot and severly wounded Nicolas Kirk a bailiff at the court house. Its sad that its taken 25 years for the two victims familys to see justice. If anything they should have the choice of how he goes out. Another thing, for those of you who see him as a "Man" for choosing the firing squad have a pretty twisted view of what a man is. Choosing the firing squad is a cowards way out which is fitting for him cause of his choice to take the weak persons way out in life by going to that bar and robbing that man and killing him then to try and run away that just proves that he is worth nothing more then the waste in a cows pasture. One final thing i wanted to point out is that a firing squad isnt going to be quick and painless, theres always that possibility that the rounds will not hit a vital spot or a killing spot its quite possible that he could slowly bleed out maybe it'll wipe that smirk off his face and finally bring him to realize that his life hasnt amounted to anything.

    April 25, 2010 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  4. Scortch

    I hope there's no law against the squad using flame-throwers...

    April 25, 2010 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  5. Hunee

    "An eye for an eye". If he shot and killed then he should be shot and killed. Although, maybe the 5 man firing squad should shoot him in intervals, one at a time. Why should this guilty man be spared a near painless and instant death?

    April 25, 2010 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. allforcapitalpunishment

    I am a firm believer that you should be killed in the way that you kill. You shoot someone ... you get shot. You rape someone then bash in thie heads.. you get raped then your head gets bashed in... I honestly think this would be a real deterrent for criminals. Even a rapist does not want to be raped. And for those of you who think them sitting in prison for life is enough becuse they will have to live with what they have done for the ret of their lives and suffer with guilt... think again, do you hnestly think that a man or woman for that matter who rapes a child or kills a man, any person who stabs a person 20 times, or pops a cap in a persons ass, really cares in the first place? A rapist is a rapist... they wanted to rape... thats it.... a murderer is a murderer... he wanted to kill... thats it bottom line. There is no guilt. I came form a family of police officers and prison guards and I hear stories all the time that the men and woman in prison for life straight up tell the guards they feel no sorrow or guilt for what they did. Now why in the world should they be allowed to live?

    April 25, 2010 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. Latasha

    If you ask me, they should use salt laced bullets so when the bullet rips him to shreds, he has the nice sting of salt on his flesh.

    April 25, 2010 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. Latasha

    Mary: A respectable parent would not allow their children to read such articles!

    April 25, 2010 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. JB

    The reason for penalizing someone for any anti-social behavior like murder is to inform the society at large about the consequences of such behavior. The knowledge of the consequences shapes the behavior of the rest of the society. Therefore, the death penalty is not only for removing a criminal from society, but is also a deterrent for the rest of us. At no stage should this be taken as an instrument of revenge by the state-managed law enforcement agencies. Having said this, this case is apparently a case of lawyers ganging up against an individual who killed one of their friends in a desperate situation while attempting escape. I very much doubt if this will convey the right message to society.

    April 25, 2010 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. ishnupdidup

    can someone choose to be thrown to the lions as a method of execution?Man that would be fun to watch!
    just imagine this criminal with that stupid smurk on his face,hand-cuffed,taken to the local Utah zoo and thrown down to the lions,polar bears,hyenas or crocadiles to be dismembered? you'd have to get all the kids off the zoo on the day of the execution ofcourse.The predators chosen for the execution wouldn't be fed for a whole day,then you bring
    the victim's family to watch the show.It is also cheaper this way

    April 25, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  11. Lynn

    Why should he get to chose how he dies? His victim didn't!

    April 25, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. krehator

    I thought assisted suicide was illegal and immoral?

    April 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. fire

    Gardner was convicted of murder in the 1985 killing of an attorney during a courthouse escape attempt.

    VOLLMER, the guy executed in 1996, was the one who raped and murdered a little girl. Murder is murder and for those who think that the death penalty is wrong, I hope you never have a family member murdered. You won't be saying that as the killer gets three meals and a place to sleep.

    April 25, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. fire

    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.

    This comment is ridiculous. Let's see.........................................................................
    UM....Murder is the ultimate denial of human rights, dummy. Get off your damn soapbox. Mary, kids should not be reading this anyway. We mothers who give a damn about what their children access on the Internet make sure they don't see things like this.

    April 25, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jerry

    he is a noble man for going whit the firing squad

    April 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
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