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article imageGardner executed by Utah firing squad

By Michael Bearak     Jun 18, 2010 in Crime
Shortly before midnight Friday, convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner was led from his cell for his execution via a five-gun firing squad.
For the first time in 14 years there was an execution by firing squad. Ronnie Lee Gardner announced on April 23rd that he had chosen death by firing squad for the murder of a man 25 years ago.
Utah had outlawed execution by firing squad, except for those already on death row. The previous executions since the 1976 outlaw of firing squad executions occurred in 1977 and 1996 and the executions raised questions of cruel and unusual punishment.
It was 25 years ago that Gardner tried to escape from custody and he wounded one man while killing another. Gardner then spent 25 years after being convicted in November of 1985; he was sentenced to death. Now 25 years later the appeal process has been exhausted and the governor of Utah did not step in for a last minute pardon.
Outside the prison Gardner's family held a candle light vigil. The family of Michael Burdell, the attorney Gardner shot, was also apposed to the execution of Gardner citing that it was not what Michael would have wanted. Just the same in the same shooting spree Gardner also wounded bailiff Nick Kirk.
According to Kirk's family he was never himself again after the shoot until he passed away in 1995. Kirk's family reported, "His last few years were marked by a pain that never went away, emotional pain and pain from a bullet lodged in his stomach." They were in-favor of Gardner's execution.
At 12:20 a.m. Mountain Time was when Gardner was lead to the execution chamber, where he was strapped into a chair and a hood was put over his head while a target was pinned to his chest. It was then that the five person firing squad took aim, four of the guns would have a live bullet in them, one a blank.
Cheryl Worsley, a local radio reported stated, "It was over pretty quickly, It was cleaner than I expected. It was fast. But he moved. He moved a little bit, and to some degree that bothers me."
More about Utah, Ronnie lee gardner, Death firing squad
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