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. Gregory

    He should have been executed many years ago. It's amazing how he is now a changed man just as they are about to shoot him. He is just trying to save his own skin.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kevin

    "judge not lest ye be judged"...you know what? I'm perfectly OK with that.
    I have nothing to hide- Judge me all you want.
    I have somehow managed to go through life without murdering people in cold blood or doing any thing else horrific and have a completely clear conscience.
    I'll bid my 2 parking tickets in the last 25 years against this monsters actions any day of the week.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hello5

      You should have just been shot in the leg for your crimes.....

      June 14, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Enrique

    Why not grant this man his wish, he wants to help teens by showing them how to stay claen and not make the same mistakes he made. Have a bunch of teenagers come and witness the firing squad; that will teach them.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • enricorosan

      Probably,the best comment so far.. Thanks

      June 14, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. kathleen

    Although psychotics may become more "mellow" / change with time , another conflict will eventually arise and they will probably solve it like they always have . . . with a violent act .
    Until we have the medical technology to cure them , we need to STOP these long incarcerations and euthanize them expeditiously .
    Keeping them in prison is not kind ,
    Bleeding the taxpayers to do it is even worse .
    Work on the medical cure and until then , send them on to whomever runs this universe .

    June 14, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • russ

      There is a medical cure, it's called labotomy....but then we're stuck caring for the veggy for years.

      June 14, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |

    Curious, Davec: how much do you pay annually in taxes?

    These 'people' don't just kill the lives of their victims, they suck the life out of the rest of us in payments for their upkeep which could be appointed to more life improving endeavors like raising children, growing communities, building businesses and protecting our well-being. How much do you pay for your hand-wringing?

    June 14, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jimmyjohn

    Inhumane? An 'act of murder' by the state? Bleeding hearts; they should bring back public execution to stem the tide. Wish we were more like China; kill the guy 30 minutes after he's convicted.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jack

    The only bad part is that it took too long.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Xi Chin

    He will get his wish. As a deterent. Remember: Do not kill. Ahhh, it's the moral we live by 🙂

    June 14, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Big Al

    The crimes that this animal committed are heinous beyon all possible description. To lose a loved one in the way the families of these victims did is pain and grief that no one should feel.

    That said, if he dies by firing squad, will they blind fold him and offer him a last cigarette? Will there be someone doing a drum roll while a man waves a cutlass and cries "read, aim, fire?" Will it facilitate the victims to rise from the dead?

    June 14, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. J DOG7.62mm

    I want to pee on him. The judge too.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • ballz

      eat a lot of broccoli first lol

      June 14, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Oracle

    The way to solve problems? Really "davec", I guess if the lawyer he brutally murdered in his second escape attempt was a loved one of yours, would you happily let your son or daughter go to his "teen" lectures? This person, chose this method of execution, and he chose to take lives in his puirsuit of whatever it was he was hoping to obtain, a return to the lifestyle that first landed him in prison in first place would be my guess, but he might have been just going for freedom. Either way it doesn't matter now. If you and your ilk find the act that the state of Utah is about to do, instead of protesting it, why not do something about its dierect cause? Change those who might break the law instead of trying to take down the law you don't like.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AmJames

    The Co$t of going through the process lasting 25 years to make 100 % sure that this man is guilty and be put to death, is worth as compared to spending Billions in wars costing millions of lives. If someone is doing the Maths, do it on both sides.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Oh please, get off your high horse. Damn left wing liberals. You can disagree all you want on the wars, WHICH I happen to agree with. There is no disagreement however, that this man took the lives of two innocent people. Get a grip. He should have been executed immedately after the trail. The reason prisoners wait so long to be executed in this day and age is because of bleeding heart liberals like you that seem to think that capital punishment is bad.

      June 14, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tommy

      Bruce – well stated – Salute

      June 14, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • stablecable

      Bruce is obviously another nutjob who probably lives in a trailer park.
      It's a TRIAL Bruce, not a TRAIL.
      Capital punishment doesn't deter anything.
      It just makes the weak feel stronger.
      I'm sure if it was your mother or daughter facing the firing squad you'd be
      crying like a baby for leniency.

      June 14, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. rivirivi

    He will finally pay the consequences for his actions. We are still bound to the consequences of our actions, good and bad, and how they affect other people and we will pay those consequences by human laws here in this realm. Let God decide what he wants to do with this lost soul after he pays here.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sam

    God have a mercy! Fire Squad in the 21st century? Why do we blame eastern countries?

    June 14, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • russ

      Yeah, we should just strap explosives to his chest and ship him to fight the Taliban

      June 14, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      You know Russ, that wouldn't be a bad idea. If he manages to get out of there alive then fine. LOL

      June 14, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. BOB

    davec and kevin....quit crying....ohh its inhumane blah blah blah, he killed 2 human beings he deserves every bullet he gets. its people like you that make americans have to pay for these criminals to be kept in prison for life. i think if you sentence them to life with no parole just kill em save the people from having to pay taxes on them they're no good to society anymore. so its whatever he chose his fate back in the 80s and now he shall pay for it dearly....and davec utah is teaching people what justice is.....no telling us how to solve our problems by killing get a grip go hide in your corner and cry

    June 14, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      you obviously misunderstood my post. (or didn't read it in its entirety)
      It was in response so some bleeding heart crying about "judge not..."
      I personally wish they could execute him twice.

      June 14, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
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