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. Duane W

    I live in Utah and remember what this man did over 20 years ago. To live this long is a shame. I for one am glad he will get the bullet and to be honest, I will not shed a tear.

    April 23, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rob

    You would think a bunch of bullets to the head or heart would be a fairly humane way to die. It's over right away if the squad has good aim, with little pain I imagine.

    April 23, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. army brat

    Yikes....what a mess. Who wants to be doing the cleanup?

    April 23, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Terri Thompson

    Good for him! I think all scum of the earth should be tortured this method still isn't harsh enough he still can appeal get free food and live! I work and struggle everyday to pay for this jerk to use the system enough is enough kill em already!

    April 23, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mike

    This guy is either very excited about the (other side)or he really doesn't give a damn about this life.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lance

    I'm thankful to live in a country with a social conscience that has moved beyond ending the life of one in retribution for another. Executing someone is the easy way out for all involved, both executioner and executed; it allows all involved to avoid taking real responsibility and brings no gratification, forgiveness or closure.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • maria

      grow some balls LANCE!!! you must be kidding me!!! if your brother or father was murdered in that fashion you'd want to take him in and shelter him from the bullet in his brain he DESERVES!!! get a clue

      June 10, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. OUSOONERS

    Be curious to know how the cops feel about shooting this person, after the fact. I would think they would have some serious issues with this in the long term.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • maria

      the cops should not have any issues! The army shoot "bad" guys all the time! thats the point here! if we have a war and our soldiers are to kill the enemy then whats the difference if the police shoot the enemy here???? this guy bought himself time!!!! they should have shot him when he was captured!!! no one would object then!!!!

      June 10, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stacy

      OUSOONERS wrote:
      "Be curious to know how the cops feel about shooting..." Actually, there was an article on CNN just this week about one of the officers that was on the firing squad in 1996. He said he would volunteer for it again. He also said he didn't have any lasting problems or any issues with shooting the man because the criminal killed an 11 year old girl. I applaud that officer for a job well done!

      June 10, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ARM

    How does this man choosing the firing squad option going to embarass the state of Utah or its law enforcement/corrections department? And the appeal seems like he just wants to prolong the attention that he is getting from the media. Just shoot him and quit waisting tax payer dollars on this guy. I'm sure a bullet costs less than lethal injection anyway.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. N.

    "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." Right ... why would that embarass anyone? There are all kinds of different ways to execute people still on the books from before legal injection was an option. He was obviously a monster, for raping that little girl, and a moron to boot!

    As for Gardner, he shot someone and now he's going to be shot. Seems fair to me.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Andre

    Why are convicted killers given any kind of choices for anything?

    April 23, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Irene

    And once more I wonder what country I am living in... Is this China?!

    April 23, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • conor McCartney

      nope

      July 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lillian Loucks

    I don't understand why a convicted killer has a choice in the manner he is executed.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. babak

    He commited the crime in 1985!! How much has he costs us so far?
    Get it over with, please...

    April 23, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Matt

    Good for him. Live hard, die hard.
    Pretty funny that they still offer a firing squad. I think I would take that too if I had to choose. It will certainly be quick with a little pain. Right in the heart- everything stops quickly.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ME

    I would like to see that!

    April 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
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