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. roguey

    Capital punishment is barbaric. The US should move into modern times and end this medieval prcatice.

    June 14, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DON62

    Hope you like hot places Ronnie. Oh by the way,there not serving iced tea where your going.

    June 14, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. enricorosan

    He stole two lives from their families and their friends. sorry but It is time for him to meet his maker for the reckoning .

    June 14, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Esmeralda

      You're not the one to determine when this person meets his maker. Only HE does. So you and your so-called Christian buddies get off God's chair and let him do the decisions.

      June 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hireacher

    To Seth: Actually the thought of the death penalty did save someone. The S.O.B. that used to beat up my mother. I had him in a stranglehold and could have killed him but the thought of dying for that piece of s_it stopped me. If I thought for one moment I could have got away with it I would have killed him. It's not easy pulling back from those kinds of strong emotions when they surface. When someone abuses a member of your family all you can think of is terminating their existence from our lovely planet. Then the thought of dying for what you did kicks in and suddenly letting the police handle it makes more sense. As it is they let him go and he almost beat another women to death. He finally died alone, drunk on a bus bench. I could have been typing this from jail if that thought of eating a bullet hadn't entered my mind.

    June 14, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • MA

      Good for you!

      Thank you for posting this and SHOWING people that someone can actually think of the consequences for killing someone before committing the act.

      June 14, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    Who has to pay for the bullets? They should have made him buy his own bullets from the money he earned in whatever work he's been doing in prison

    June 14, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Esmeralda

      GOD forbid you fail to bring food to your family's table because one man used your paycheck to pay for his execution bullets. You're pathetic.

      June 14, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. john

    the state of texas has RELEASED over 50 men that were absolutely GUILTY...yet when modern DNA testing was applied to "absolute eyewitness's" these HORRIBLE MONSTERS were found NOT GUILTY...people make mistakes...are you sure everything you ever saw or heard was the truth...guess what IT WAS NOT....so now you go ahead a take a life..GOD will deal with you...and we know GOD gets MAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Go Ahead destroy his creation...you will pay the most TERRIBLE PRICE

    June 14, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • CURT

      The guy has admitted to murder. Give me a break. I'll deal with "god" later when I find out which "god' I'm dealing with. Say bye bye John.

      June 14, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jamie

    To Drunk Monkey: you said. "You only say these things because you have never seen a truly evil person. " You are wrong.

    June 14, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Silas Scarborough

    Execution is only different from murder in the garb worn by the person doing by the killing. The sanctimonious aura of self-righteousness is typically common to murderers and executioners alike.

    June 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sharrob

    to all of you bleeding hearts that don;t believe in the death penalty:
    I'm sure most of you believe in abortion, that it is a woman's "choice".
    talk about killing............!
    this guy deserves what he is getting, those millions of babies do not!

    June 14, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. admiral 149

    Most young people engaged in crime today believe that violent crime pays. Plea bargains have replaced truthfulness as the main stay of the criminal justice system minimizing any relationship between the severity of a crime and punishment. It is argued that capitol punishment does not deter murder. It seems to me that capitol punishments carried out 20 years after the commission of the crimes would not deter crime as much as an execution carried out a year or two after the commission of the crime when the details of the crime were still in peoples mind. Most young people think 20 years is more than a lifetime anyway.

    June 14, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. David

    Simple solution! Those who feel violence & the taking of lives is their choice of society & are caught in those beliefs & actions need to be sent to a Pacific island where materials for shelter are dropped, food is dropped, the waters are patrolled & there they stay to build their society of violence, and just maybe Mother Nature will fix up a typhoon & wash their souls. They can fight for shelter, food & security & natural attrition will keep the population manageable. Then we don't have to house them & that message of punishment will hopefully deter new crimes! The gangs & other misfits can have life on their terms & we can have life on our terms!

    June 14, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Danny

    So why does the final order of execution state that the jury "imposing a death sentence was NOT appropriate"?? Hope that typographical error doesnt get this guy pardoned.

    June 14, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      The articles says it was the decision was not inappropriate

      June 14, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AJ

    Boy, this has Republicans just creaming in their jeans!! There's nothing that a right-wing extreemist loves more than an execution!

    June 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Larry

    OF COURSE HE'S A CHANGED MAN! The thought of having 10 guys with rifles using you for target practice would change just about everyone. Shoot, I almost need a change after just thinking about it . . . where's my new bag of Depends??

    June 14, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Danny

    kinda cool that Utah still shoots em

    June 14, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
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