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. Jeremy

    most of you are sick sick barbaric people ... just as demented as this guy ...

    June 14, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Liz

      Jeremy, you just keep quiet in your jail cell and enjoy the free lodging, clothes, food, and education that we law abiding citizens are providing you.

      June 14, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ed

    States who execute people are guilty of murder just like the person executed.

    June 14, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Liz

      Ed, I am sure you are a criminal yourself. But if you had anything left from your soul, what if the murder victim was your parent, child or spouse? Your stupid mouth wouldn't be running so freely. Would it??

      June 14, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Varangamaiky

      I can't agree more. God bless the guy!!

      June 14, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnJacob

      Liz, don't forget about this guy's family, too. Even people who get the death penalty are sons, brothers, friends, etc. The death penalty creates a new set of bereaved individuals.

      June 14, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnJacob

      Don't forget about this guy's family, too. Even people who get the death penalty are sons, brothers, friends, etc. The death penalty creates a new set of bereaved individuals.

      June 14, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hireacher

      I agree with Liz. Go ahead Ed. You pray for this animals soul. The only reason he isn't dead already is because the justice system let the families of those he admittedly killed down. They should have flipped the switch or fired the guns within a month of his first conviction.There wouldn't have been a second death if they had. Instead the tax payers got to flip the bill for his lengthy stay behind bars and someone else was killed. While there he found God and wants to help others from committing crimes like he did. GIVE ME A BREAK. Terminate this a_hole from our planets exsistence as soon as possible. And while we're at it lets find an island or invade a small country where we can send people like ED who don't agree with the death penalty for 100% no doubt convicted killers. Maybe then our tax dollars will come down because instead of feeding them we'll be frying them!

      June 14, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. elitesack

    wow this is weird.

    June 14, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Varangamaiky

    Wow!!! I am stunned by mos comments here. I am not a big fan of death penalty. I think that we, U.S, are hypocrites. If other countries would do this, we would say blah blah,and how unhumane such thing is. The guy is killer, and there is no way that would ever been erased. However, an eye for eye seems to harsh. Lock him up in jail, that would be enough than revenge. I know, he killed innocent people. He is life is already taken away, so no need to fire him. Just my thoughts people.

    June 14, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. elitesack

    ey whats up with all you guys with god complexes that are sayin 'oooo fudge head deserves to die ooooo ' what are you guys better than everyone else or something? EH? u think your better than me?

    June 14, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. UniversalMan

    Here's a simple chart so we don't get bogged down in legal red tape about peoples issues that lead up to crime – (1) use gun during any crime: 10yrs (2) gun goes off: 15yrs (3) someone gets hurt: 20yrs (4) someone gets killed: life | NO PAROLE | EVER | – message is use guns you pay – period!!!

    June 14, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Izzy

    Well here goes the United States executing another criminal, this puts us in the same league as Saudi Arabia and all the other third world countries that still do executions. From Infoplease.com "According to Amnesty International, 137 countries have abolished the death penalty. Argentina, Chile, and Uzbekistan outlawed the death penalty in 2008. During 2007, 24 countries, 88% in China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States alone, executed 1,252 people compared to 1,591 in 2006. Nearly 3,350 people were sentenced to death in 51 countries. More than 20,000 prisoners are on death row across the world" China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, I
    am ashamedI

    June 14, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jesse

    We are a nation of laws and the law states if you are convicted by a jury of your peers and then sentenced to death it shall be carried out immediately. I agree a person is entilted to ONE appeal and that is it!!! The days of having convicts who are on death row living in a Hilton Hotel type atmosphere are fast coming to an end. The State budgets are far in the red now and to keep these thugs alive serves no purpose to the taxpayers thereof. I believe in the death penalty very strongly and to do otherwise makes you Un-American because you do want to follow the laws of the land.

    Even during Jesus' time execution was common and the crime rate was VERY low. China has the lowest crime rate in the world and the highest population I wonder why? The US needs to adopt Chinas way of thinking because it works. If we dont do something soon we will become the worlds prison country with over half of the population in jail at one point or another.

    June 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Keith Long

    I agree with those who say we should not take the life of another human for any reason, however this animal long ago forfeited his right to be called human. We have to euthanize dangerous animals like this for the protection of society. That way there is no chance they will never get loose and endanger anyone else.

    June 14, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kool Moe T

    The reason why the death penalty is not a deterrent in this country is because it's always carried out at midnight and only a select few get to witness it. You start offing a few bad guys as part of the super bowl halftime show and you'll get the deterrent you're looking for.

    June 14, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Alert Citizen

    I have never understood what does death penalty achieve.

    1. If I am making an evil plan to kill someone, the punishment is not going to scare me from doing it. It will just make my planning thorough. A person who is determined to kill is fanatic about that idea (eg. radicalized terrorist)

    2. If a person is doing something wrong say "burglary" and encounters a security guard, at that split second, he does not have time to think about the consequences (punishment) for his actions (killing a guard).

    So the argument that death penalty deters future criminals is useless. well you can keep them in the jail for life with no possibility of parole and make him think about what they did all life long.

    Only one reason I would ever support death penalty is if expenditure on keeping these criminals alive and feed becomes too much down the line, Then we would not be humans, we would be jungle animals.

    June 14, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John

    I don't care if it is a deterrence or not, I know for sure if cuts down on recidivism... if he had been put down after his 1st murder (which was a bartender not a another escape attempt) he never would have been able to kill that layer. That would have been a 50% drop in his personal murder rate... and that works for me...

    June 14, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. NoQuarter

    To the people who say the DP doesn't deter crime, how do you know? Where are your references ? Yes, there are still killings. But maybe it has kept 1 person from killing another and you just don't know that. Humans are animals first. And animals kill other animals. And those animals should be treated like the animals that they are.

    June 14, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hireacher

      It does deter crime. Read my post above at 2:34 pm

      June 14, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous


      Generally, it's not worthwhile providing references for these sorts of things. Death penalty advocates will find a reason to disagree with research they don't agree with, and vice versa.

      June 14, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Azamigo

    Probably most of the bloggers that are protesting the death penalty are the same folks that are pro-abortion. Talk about possibly killing an innocent.

    June 14, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnJacob

      That's probably true, and a terrible inconsistency. Pro-life, anti-war, anti-death penalty–be consistent!

      June 14, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NoQuarter

    I had a classmate that was gunned -down a few years back. She left behind a husband and two very young kids. The ONLY good thing that came from that horrible event, was that the gunman got killed in the shoot out. Had he lived, all of us would have paid for his medical bills, his lawyer, and his jail cell tv and food. Even if he had been sentenced to death, we would have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this POS. He ruined a family. He hurt hundreds of people with his killing of one. But the anti-DP people never want to hear it. I bet if they lost a mom, a sister, a wife or a friend, they'd change their tune.

    June 14, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
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