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. curlean bryant

    I've never understood the necessity of giving them an option? If anybody should choose maybe the relatives of the victims? Here in Washington State one guy appealed on the grounds that He was too obese to find a vein and hanging would cause decapitation? I wonder if he was that considerate of his victims? If the object is death, does it really matter what path is taken? Definitely they don't deserve the right to choose or be concerned with what happens on their way out! The Victims are the only ones that have rights and they can no longer chose for themselves!

    April 23, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jack

    If there was physical evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, he should have been executed no more than one year after his conviction. Instead it's dragged on for 25 years, and cost millions of dollars in court and prison costs.

    April 23, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. R Edwards

    Good for Utah. The sooner the better.

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

    I think that a firing squad is a crazy way to go, but if it is his choosing, then so be it. I say just stick him in the middle of Harlem or Compton with some effective clothing, and let nature sort it out. That would be more entertaining!!

    April 23, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mark H.

    It's a Mormon thing. Blood atonement for sins. Wish I was joking, but it's true. Some things just hang around as primitive as they seem, but it does have a historical basis.

    April 23, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. zananasz

    So the killer wants to embarrass the state of Utah by choosing firing squad.Hmm...
    I don`t think he is in the position to embarrass anyone other then himself.

    April 23, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Corporal Punishment

    If I were on the firing squad, I wouldn't aim for a kill shot... at least not till the last bullet

    April 23, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Oklahoma29

    Why should this man get to choose the way he will die? His victim did not. I say let the victim's family choose if he gets the death penalty and in what manor. He lost his ability to make choices for himself when he killed someone. It should always be justice for the victim not the killer.

    I think he should rot in a unspoiled jail for the rest of his life.

    April 23, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. DallasMarine

    So they kill someone they get to choose how they are executed? Shouldn't the victims family get to choose? This only encourages violent behavior since criminals can have their way to end.

    April 23, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Charles in NJ

    Good to see a criminal man up to his crime. A worthy fate for this man.

    April 23, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SJE

    follow this logic: (1) If person A kills person B whence person B does not deserve it, then person A should be executed. (2) If person A is executed and later found to be innocent of killing person B, then person A was wrongly executed and did not deserve it. (3) So whomsoever killed person A should themselves be executed.

    See, so long as there are *any* innocent people that are executed, it is morally wrong to execute anyone, since you cannot be 100% certain that everyone you are executing is in fact guilty of the crime. Anyone that supports execution are themselves guilty of the very crime they are purporting to deplore.

    April 23, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chrg

    It is a shame for a country like the United States to be exercising the death penalty still.
    A state should be acting on behalf of its people, each and every one of them. And as far as I am concerned, I do not want to take away any life and want no one to take a life on my behalf.
    Need to put all the effort on prevention, rehabilitation, and confinement, in this order.....

    April 23, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ArtFarfunkle

    SpeicalK, Gardner did not rape and murder an 11 year old. He killed an attorney during a courthouse escape attempt.

    April 23, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. denise

    sounds like he is trying to get publicity before he dies. i still dont understand why it takes 25 years to kill someone

    April 23, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. M

    Too bad this has to take so long to happen due to appeals and delays. I think it's good we still have the death penalty. People who murder others deserve to die we should not give them sympathy because they didn't give to the poor victims they killed.

    April 23, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
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