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. MrATC2u

    You get a video tape of someone commiting a violent crime. You give them 3 days to say goodbye and "BANG". Thats a fair and speedy trial. That will deter some crime. But then again, we'd have a buch of low to middle income lawyers.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dave

    >>I love America, but we have to work on making our legal system more efficient, less redundant, and provide a process that truly intimidates people from commiting crime,<<

    The process being some sort of no-delay death penalty? Nice idea, but despite this simplicity that many of us wish for, there is no evidence that death penalty acts as a deterrent. It's a satisfying act of revenge, however. Public decapitation or drawing and quartering were probably even better in that regard, but these horrors didn't deter either. Gotta look elsewhere.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. KEVIN

    then those that show no forgiveness, will they themselves not be shown forgivenessw

    June 14, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jeff

    It wasn't noted in the article, but it was his choice to die by firing squad.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. n56

    I bet a member of the family would like to be a person on the firing squad.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. NoQuarter

    If they showed his execution on tv during school hours, you're darn-tootin' it would deter teens from commtting crimes. But we're too soft, so that will never happen.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ryan

    My question is, why the hell did they wait so long to execute this guy? Death by firing squad, i like it....should've been done in 1986 though.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Danny

    just the firing squad as an option alone has lowered murderous crime in Utah. Heck, there are only what...like 11 death row inmates in the past decade? It would work even better as a deterrent IF THEY WOULDN'T WAIT DECADES TO DO IT!!! It's that simple people.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • davec

      Danny, the death penalty is NOT a deterent. It is said to cause a 'hardening of society' and actually contributes to higher murder rates. So, if you want to deter murder, abolish the death penalty.

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

    In America people love to kill people, and if it's legal to do it, people will enjoy it. Yes, they will enjoy it. We are a country of hate mongers. I am leaving soon.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoQuarter

      Guess you nver had a loved one blown away. Didn't think so...

      June 14, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      The best judges of this issue are those who have not suffered; either those who have not fallen victim or those who perpetrate these crimes.

      No, I haven't lost anyone directly in my family, although my best friend's sister was brutally murdered with a hatchet by someone who believed in capital punishment – he took his own life when the police caught up with him.

      I really believe that those who believe so strongly in capital punishment are "sick" individuals who lack empathy. They are dangerous people, reminescent of "Kinna the Poet", (Julius Cesar). The believers are not victims, although they think they are.

      June 14, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      People like you are the problem.
      Your the kind criminals walk all over.. The ones they hope get on their jury..The ones that they know will feel more sorry for them than the victim..So they can continue to victimize innocent people..
      Where is the justice for the victim?? NOT with people like you,

      June 14, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • MadDogDad

      Perhaps you mean you're leaving for a country with a better legal system. Good luck. And don't let the door hit you as you leave.

      June 14, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      My point is that none of you are victims of crime, but yet you still feel you are.

      I think it has more to do with how you are treated in your families and your workplaces. People who have been kicked, are in effect abused people. Kind of like the dog who has been kicked, and now bites people.

      June 14, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ryan

    Should bring back public hangings and death by stoning as well.....

    June 14, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    What is sad is the number of people on this forum who support Capital Punishment. The death penalty is nothing more than premeditated murder; and please, no BS crap about God and An Eye for an Eye, that's all crap. For those of you who are religious, isn't this taking the power of what you call God and putting in your own hands? Isn't that harsh? And firing squad? Far too brutal. I hope that none of you ever need the mercy of others. Putting this man to death will in no way ease the pain and suffering of his victims' families. It may satisfy their thirst for revenge, but that thirst for revenge is not better than the crimes this man committed.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      It's not revenge..
      It's the justified end to the person that put themselves there.. How is it "murder"or "revenge" when a person who commits murder "knows" they could get the death penalty?
      We all die..No one gets out of this world alive.. And if you choose to take an innocent persons life, then you forfeit your own.. And these guys know it..They just hope they can whine their way out of it by appealing to people like you..
      Maybe if they keep finding they can not get out of it..Others will think before they kill an innocent person..?
      Because the one thing thats for sure, they never want to die themselves.

      June 14, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. davec

    I agree Mike, and I for one do not want the government to have the power to kill me.

    June 14, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoQuarter


      June 14, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amoeba17

      I know! It's so much better getting killed by a random person making a mistake. Oh, hold on, make that two mistakes.

      June 14, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. NoQuarter

    What would Harrry Callahan do ? Well punk, what would he do ?

    June 14, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Utah-Man

    He was in court on a charge of murder when he attempted to escape and committed the second murder. Thus under Utah law he could get the death penelty for the second murder. He also shot another person who died 10 years later of complications of the shooting. He also knifed someone while locked up. So you could say he is a career criminal. Not the role model I would like working with troubled youth!

    June 14, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amoeba17

      I'm sure these were simply mistakes, and the other guy simply fell on the knife. If he really did do these acts, I'm sure he can be rehabilitated. Give him some counseling and a job and I'm sure he'll be fine. Oh....hold on! Whew! I was getting brain washed by all of these other people that feel he can be a useful person in society. Glad I snapped out of it.
      The firing squad is a little gentle in my opinion. Chaining him to a post in Death Valley in August would be much nicer.

      June 14, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. What is Justice

    Some people seem to have a problem with a firing squad....while others have a problem spending tax dollars on worthless humans. Solution: Pick a deserted island and put all the murder's together on this island. They will kill each other off and NO tax dollars will be spent and NOBODY can say its inhumane....They would kill each other!!!

    June 14, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      That's what happened in Australia.

      June 14, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
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