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. Rushian

    The only thing i would like better than the firing squad is life at hard labor... I have 20 acres of big rocks that I would donate to be turned into small rocks... Let him die naturally, of heat stroke and exhaustion (or snake bite, or being crushed by a boulder....) on a chain gang – certainly wouldn't take 20 years either.

    June 14, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jack

    Gett'em up against the WALL....enough said!

    June 14, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. elitesack


    June 14, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Yaz

    To say that the death penalty does not deter crime is moronic. Any criminal who wants to live is most certainly deterred by the prospect of death. The problem here in the US is that the death penalty is like a paper lion, often threatened but rarely used and easy to avoid. Only a small fraction of violent offenders are given the death penalty, and only a small fraction of those are actually put to death. Even if you don't believe in the death penalty as a deterrent, it's still effective. At the very least, it removes violent criminals from society permanently with no possibility of repeat offenses from those offenders and without forcing taxpayers to support them for the rest of their lives, not to mention giving some peace to the victims' families. In that alone it is worthwhile. I find it baffling and a little disturbing that some seem to care more about the violent offenders' rights than the suffering of those affected by their crimes or the rights of the rest of us to protect ourselves.

    June 14, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. PullTheTrigger

    I don't care if it is a deterrence, as far as I'm concerned it is a just punishment.

    June 14, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe

    I say we have an auction on eBay to be able to fire a gun at this loser. Tougher laws don't work, more jail time doesn't work, but at least with the death penalty a very small number of degenerates are removed from the face of the earth after 20 years of appeals. I'm always amazed at how many people become reformed when they're facing death themself.

    June 16, 2010 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. mary

    sick, disgusting comments.. but then again, what am i expecting of an american webpage?! and you're wondering why the whole world, especially the western, civilized world, hates you?! im not wondering at all...........

    June 16, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • 4NM

      Not all Americans

      June 17, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jim

    Rhino, I understand what you're saying about execution costing more than incarceration, but that's only because these weasles work the system with appeal after appeal. Lawer and court fees alone are obsurd. When people refer to execution as cheaper, they're simply refering to the ACT of execution, not the royal pain in the rump process to get there. That's where the system is flawed. And yes we all know there are incocent people on death row, and it sucks, but we shouldn't hold off executing those violent criminals beyond rehabilitation who were convicted through due process. These people don't have an on/off switch. The only cure is a permanent short circuit– i.e execution.

    June 16, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. 4 New Murderers will enter the world..

    4 New Murderers will enter the world..

    It's hard for me to fathom the ignorance and lack of soul of those who have volunteered to be become murderers. Those of the firing squad, four of you will become murders. Killing another human is wrong, no matter what the reason. (unless in self defense) To you who support this, many of you call yourselves Christians & Mormons, what is wrong with you? Have you never listened? You act tough here, but in your hearts, you know this is wrong. Your support makes you no less guilty than the murderer himself. NO, this is not about compassion or pity. I have no compassion for this man or any other criminal. NO, I do not believe those who commit capitol crimes should live a comfortable life, burdening the tax payers. Murderers should be required live out the remainder of their life as a Slave to the State and offered no individual rights or medical care. A life of hard labor, forced to work in mines, farms or factories, cleaning up oil, or medical experimentation. Enough work to compensate for their own upkeep. If he refuses to work, he doesn't get fed. If he gets sick, don't treat him. (unless he's profitable) Any profits after his own upkeep should be given the victims family.

    June 17, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rene`

    Ronnie was given a choice as to what form of execution he could have. That more than he gave his victims.

    June 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jim

    Slave of the state? Did you take your meds this morning? This country is based on capitalism not slavery. Crawl back under your rock and take a breath of relieve that this monster has been terminated and is no longer a threat you the well being of those in this country who work hard to make ends meet and own up to thier responsibilities. And for those that follow in his steps...I pray that they meet the same fate. Besides, he probably only chose that punishment as a way to try to weasle out of it. Hoping some bleeding heart politician or group would appeal and protest enough to get the sentence reduced to life without parole. Nice try creep, may satan have no mercy where you're going.

    June 22, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
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