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. Jackson Browne

    Say a prayer for the pretender.
    He knows that all his hopes and dreams,
    begin and end there.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JRR

    He's not paid for his crime, he's paid for 1/2 his crime, because he can only die once. It's the best we can do though.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. B. A.

    I suppose all our fathers, friends, brothers from WWII are "murderers". All the soldiers and cops who protect your life by ridding the world and neighborhoods of conscienceless sociopaths, murderers, too? These abominations of society will only be stop when rendered dead. It's either off 'em or fill the planet up with prisons and bankrupt decent people. What about the right of the PAST AND FUTURE VICTIMS? HUH?

    June 14, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • ballz

      Dont even try to paint that picture fool

      June 14, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • ballz

      sorry, replied to the wrong person

      June 14, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. CrazyMe

    All humans are selfish and predatory. Humans have not yet learned how to live in peace with one another. To execute this man is no different than those which he has executed. Look at history, the human race is a killing breed. The time has not yet come to where the human race has overcome the Thorstein Veblen phase.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Megan

      Unfortunately, I agree with you.

      June 14, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mahbalz es Hari

    Another murdah by the state. OK, this guy is a total weasel but why turn ourselves into murderers? I'm happy with him being locked in a cage forever, why not you?

    June 14, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • russ

      Because he has already escaped twice and murdered someone in each attempt. Only way to ensure that can't happen again is to remove his ability to escape. Blast away

      June 14, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Eric

    As much as I'd like to see this man die, it is inconceivable that we permit our imperfect system of justice to carry out the ultimate punishment, that which cannot be undone. It should not matter how strong of a case it is, humans are imperfect.

    It is not a deterrent to crime - look at crime rates of states with capital punishment vs those without - there is not even a correlation between the two.

    Plus, it's more expensive to kill someone than keep them in prison.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Miakoda

      In what reality is it more expensive to kill someone than to keep them in prison for 25 years?! Seriously dude?! Have a problem with simple math, do you? Some guns and some ammo might cost a couple grand, depending on the guns....that much money is spent on ONE inmate in less than a year! Jeez....

      June 14, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rhino

      Haha sorry Miakoda but you're way off base man–although I'm not quite in the mood to waste my time explaining it to people like you (even though I don't wholeheartedly disagree with the State's punishment). But just perform a simple Google cost search and you'll become (ever so slightly) more knowledgeable, something the world needs a lttl more of these days.. 🙂

      June 14, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Miakoda

    A firing squad is a great idea! EVERY state should have that option! It is NOT inhumane to kill a killer – it's just. In fact, it should be done must faster, so that we don't have to waste our tax dollars feeding, clothing, and taking care of these people. This man made the CHOICE to take the life of another human being. I'm a huge believer in the Code of Hammurabi – an eye for an eye. If humans weren't supposed to judge other humans, then we wouldn't have a judicial system.

    June 14, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Faster justice – that's a great idea. Keep that in mind when someone you know (or you) gets accused of something you didn't do or gets a punishment that doesn't, in your estimation, fit the crime. You know what, those trials seem to really take a long time too. Let's just take people we think are guilty of something, charge them, sentence them, and get it all over with lots faster. The hell with evidence and weighing appropriate punishments. Brilliant thinking.

      June 14, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SW

    What a putz. He "wants to help teens" so they don't end up like him. I think most people, including teens, already know that murder is bad, thank you. Have a seat, sir, and sit up straight for the firing squad.

    June 14, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ZOOMER165


    June 14, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Voice

      You are sick. Keep your snuff fantasies to yourself.

      June 14, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kardiac

      Put down your Gameboy, move out of your mother's basement and get a job.

      June 14, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. DNA

    The people that are eager to see this man die are no different than the murderer himself in my opinion. If you really do feel the need to execute this man, you should do it with disdain, disgust and shame for the whole human race that we still have to use such unevolved violence. Some of you people seem to take delight in this and that scares me.

    June 14, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • russ

      Right, we should just keep him around for another 30 years so he can escape again and kill another innocent.

      June 14, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Drunk Monkey

      Really? What would you say if the same person in question, did escape in the attempt, showed up at your house, and murdered your wife and child while forcing you to watch, then leave. Only to make you live with those images in your mind for the rest of your life. This man, and many others like him, will stop at nothing to live off of your weakness. Bleeding hearts. Please. Get over your hypocritical garbage. You only say these things because you have never seen a truly evil person. You have never been hunted as prey. You will be one day though, and you will wonder why and you will wish I, or someone just like me was there to save you, or your family. I can't wait for judgment day folks. ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE. That is natures law.

      June 14, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Capt. Obvious

      DNA: I agree. You sound like a normal person, so you will understand the anonymity of the internet and screen names emboldens people, much like being faceless in a mob, to speak and commit horrid acts. Think of a mob of anonymous people who beat someone to death for an offense the mob feels, at that moment, deserves death. After the enormity of the killing sinks in, members of the mob slink away and then later deny any involvement because they are regular people who appreciate life but, as an angry anonymous face, can carry out unspeakable acts.
      People who cry for death, are we a nation of mob "justice?" Are you so filled with hate and malice that death does not bother you? How many, in honest assessment, could look this man in the eyes, speak to him, understand he is a fellow human, a man with a family, a life, and then murder him in cold blood? Could you personally look anyone in the eye and pull the trigger? If so, what separates you from this man on death row? Apparently you, too, are a killer and the only reason you have not murdered is the opportunity has not arisen. In your narrow minded morality, you should be put to death before you can kill, since, you are a could-be killer.

      June 14, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      DNA- He CHOSE the method of execution. So that just shows how sick and twisted the man is. I live in Utah, and for 20+ years have been feeding and clothing this bozo. Time to stop wasting my tax money to defend him. Time to stop breathing the same air he does. He killed two people, and those people didn't have any choice in the matter as to how "barbaric" their deaths were. Goodbye and Good riddance Mr. Gardner!

      June 14, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DTINDY


    June 14, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nick

    It is complete hypocrisy to execute a man for murder. We as a nation are trying to teach others not to kill, and so our punishment is death? How can we reasonably suggest to someone that murder is wrong when we then go and commit it in the form of capital punishment. It doesn't make sense.

    June 14, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Moses Brown

    The guy killed 2 people. He should have faced the firing squad LONG ago! It's a shame that this much time passes. We should enforce eye for an eye punishment and not have the appeals drag this along. You kill and we know YOU are responsible, it should be immediate termination of the criminal. Saves all of us money. I'd rather spend the money for the 5 bullets shot than the years of housing this loser in jail. Buh bye Ronnie. It's been a long time coming and I hope enjoy the long, slow walk towards the firing squad!

    June 14, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Wait a second – so your argument that we should kill this man is that it is more fiscally responsible than keeping him alive? Seriously? When put side by side with a human life, money should never be an object.

      June 14, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Moses Brown

      Hell no. My argument is if you kill.....then you should be gone and out of existance. Totally lame that we allow people who CHOOSE to take anothers life, to live years after and house them. With crime out of control in this country, it's time to make people think. If someone KNOWS they will face a firing squad and still elect to pull the trigger, then they made their choice. It's bonus that 5 bullets are cheaper than housing a loser with a free place to stay for life. Give me a break. So.....let me get this straight. If someone comes into your house and kills someone you love in cold blood. You just want the police to arrest him, put them in jail, and throw away the key???? Can you HONESTLY say that??

      June 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Braves

    This guy is a dirt bag and will get what he deserves on Friday

    June 14, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. turd

    Can I load the guns

    June 14, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Booley Booley

      Can I pull the trigger?

      June 14, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
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