June 14th, 2010
11:46 AM ET

Utah denies clemency for man set to die by firing squad

Moving a Utah death row inmate one step closer to his scheduled execution by firing squad early Friday, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole on Monday refused to commute his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole, a board spokesman said.

Read the ruling (PDF)

The board held a two-day commutation hearing for Ronnie Lee Gardner at the Utah State Prison on Thursday and Friday. During that hearing, Gardner and defense attorney Andrew Parnes argued he is a changed man who regrets killing two men in two separate escape attempts in 1984 and 1985. But Assistant Attorney General Thomas Brunker pointed to Gardner's "long history of relentless violence."

Gardner, 49, is set to die just after midnight Friday for the death of attorney Michael Burdell during an escape attempt at a courthouse in Salt Lake City.

More than two decades after he killed two men in separate escape attempts,  Gardner swears he is a changed man with a dream to help keep teens from making the mistakes he did.

But, in arguments Friday before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Brunker suggested he had a more selfish motive.

"This sounds to me like somebody who wants to save his life," Brunker said.

KSTU: Man will die by firing squad

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Filed under: Justice
soundoff (429 Responses)
  1. Danny

    Do they still blindfold them too? I think of all people, Gardner should see the rifles pointed at him.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bryan

    Firing squad? Hmm, curiously, my wall calendar reads 2010, it's probably a misprint. It must be 1810.

    Capital punishment seems to work so well, and we're in great company with other human rights champions like: China, Sierra Leone, Iran, North Korea.

    Feels good to be a role model.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joe Airborn Ranger 1

    give the squad a long lunch break and i will fill in for them free of charge.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Terry

    Despite what they do, some of you right now sound and feel just like that murderer probably did. When you justify your feelings, hate and logic to kill another man you are no different than the man you’re condemning. Now don't get me wrong I share some of the same feelings that you have for these murderers. However, in the war between (Good vs. Evil), we all lose when we become what we’re fighting.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kari

    I agree that he should be shot! It should be a painful death! My cousin was killed, We were never got to see each other grow up or even see his kids! That took our innonce and put a huge whole in our family! So, good riddence say hello to your maker

    June 14, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Your English Teacher

      I am APPALLED at your train of thought but more-so at your spelling and grammar. You have no place making the comments you left for public viewing. I no longer lose sleep over flunking you out of 5th grade (3 times).

      June 14, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dave

    Come on people, he killed an Attorney for gosh sakes, that’s a pubic service. He should be getting a bonus not a firing squad.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kardiac

    There is just no question. The State should not execute it's own citizens. There is no argument or reason that makes that a viable action by a Government. Life in prison, no parole. The quoted $50,000 it would cost to keep this human in prison is a small price to pay for all our souls.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amoeba17

      Just to clarify, that's $50,000 per year. In my opinion that's about $49,500 too much per year to spend on each prisoner.

      June 14, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brigitte

    The man has been in jail already 15 years..and the hatred I see here against him on many posts, deeply saddens me. I just dont get it how many Americans have such an anger in them. May I ask what you yourself have brought into this world except spreading nasty messages? any environmentalists here, alternative energy inventors, volunteers giving their time with an open heart to help better the world? I do not think so..except a few maybe.

    Perhaps this man you all are so condemning, has indeed changed and can do great things, ofcourse whilst in jail.

    I am glad I am different and with me many others as well. So, I am now going back to my volunteer work cleaning oiled and stressed birds along the beach.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kardiac

      Oh please...............

      June 14, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amoeba17

      I agree......you are different.

      June 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. kingtrick

    Goodbye Ronnie.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ecitsuj

    WAIT! Hold the execution! I just read this guys victim was a lawyer. maybe we should give him a reward instead.

    Hold it... upon further reveiw, the lawyer had a family. That means innocents were hurt. Fire away.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    So much pathology in these posts. It's amazing!

    June 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Johnny at Work

    In China they would have stopped talking about this guy 19 years ago. We could use some Chinese justice. And save the taxpayer 19 years of supporting this guy.

    We the people, and the families of those he murdered owe him a hell of a lot less than what he fleeced us for already.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. steve505

    I have an idea... lets just take criminals like this guy and send them to live with all of those that oppose the death penalty. You can take these guys in, feed them, clothe them, pay their medical care and living costs, etc. And while you're at it maybe you can try to rehabilitate them, since you think they're still a worthy human life. All the self-proclaimed "enlightened" snobs who say the death penalty is barbaric and outdated can take care of these people on their own dime and at their own risk. Otherwise, please continue to line these criminals up and dispose of them permanently.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jason

    There are some comments here that suggest capital punnishment is not compassionate or right. That we as a society don't have the right to end a life or that and I quote from John "an eye for an eye makes us blind". Weather or not capital punnishment reduces the rate of murder is an argument that has gone on for a long time and I am sure you can come up with numbers to support your opinion what ever that is. However there can be no question of these two things. If you put a murderer to death, he will NEVER kill again. This guy was already in prison for murder when he killed sombody else. Also if you put a murderer to death, that gives justice to the victims families and to society for the terrible crime that was committed. The death penalty is a just punnishment for murderers (i.e., as equal as possible to the crime that was committed, but often much quicker and easier for the inmate than the crime he/she committed).

    June 14, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • roguey

      What if the person is wrongly convicted? It happens all the time, look up Barry Scheck. And on your second point, why should government pander to the lesser emotions of the vitim's families?

      June 14, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jerome

    Capital punishment is giving those sadist state employees the green light to continue their practice of the occult and to corrupt young innocent peoples lives. ABOLISH CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoQuarter

      Do the crime, pay the fine – whatever that might be ! Simple. I've lived a crime-free life for ouver 4 decads now – why can't these people ?

      June 14, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
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