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. Morgan

    Isn't it nice that the defendant gets to choose his method of death but the victim didn't.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MIke, Dallas, TX

    Actually a firing squad is the best way because he will die instantly from being shot and not have to suffer pain like he would due to electrocution and/or lethal injection.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Randy

    I'll spring for the ammunition if they promise to do it tomorrow.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. I see

    Wants to go out like a man – I am sure the families of the people he killed feel the same way.... give me a break – string him up – enough of the appeals – he was caught in the act get it over with

    April 23, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dinah

    More honorable for sure. I'd pick it.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. R

    He's not a man. He choose it. Judge signed it. Now he plans to appeal???

    April 23, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dom

    As far as the death penalty and firing squads and lethal injections and whatever, we need to carry out the decision of the judge/jury concerning the death penalty in a timely manner. If we truly believe that the death penalty is a good thing to have then we should honor the decision of those jurors that vote to put these criminals to death. They should be put down with 30 days. I also believe that oublic viewing would be acceptable. I think we are a nation of adults that can take stand to learn a lesson by these procedures. Death penalty = yes?, then with 30 days = yes should be acceptable. If our judicial system is a good one and we say it is, then "lets do it".

    April 23, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Scott

    Bring back the Guillotine. Nothing says "deterrent" like watching a rapist's or murder's head flop into a basket.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. anisharora

    Somebody expalin to me why would somebody choose firing squad over letahl injection? It's driving me nuts.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ann uk

    if you are taking away criminals rights to punish them why let them choose how to die?

    April 23, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. djLizzy

    Too bad Utah changed the law. Firing squad is probably the MOST humane method available.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Daniel

    Quick, effective, and cheap.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. seth

    facinating! Seems like the firing squad is a clean and quick option as long as they don't miss!

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

    i wish every state did that!!!

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

    No. This idiot is just delaying things further. He knows if he chooses firing squad, the ACLU will halt it because it's crule, and inhumain. What I can't figure out is why the June 18th date. Why not tomorrow? I bet he would change his toon then.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
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