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Ronnie Lee Gardner Execution by Firing Squad

Ronnie Lee Gardner execution by firing squad is set for minutes after 12:00 a.m. on Friday, June 16, 2010.  The U.S. Supreme Court and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver have petitioned Governor Gary Herbert for a temporary stay.  

Gardner is an inmate in a Utah State prison.  Gardner received a death sentence in 1985 for a capital murder conviction.  Gardner was in a courthouse facing a 1984 murder charge regarding the shooting death of bartender Melvyn Otterstrom when Gardner attempted to escape.  Gardner opened fire on and fatally wounded attorney Michael Burdell and then shot Bailiff George "Nick" Kirk.  Kirk survived his injuries but suffered from chronic pain and health problems until his 1995 death.

Gardner chose the method of execution in court during April 2010 when offered the choice of lethal injection or firing squad.  Gardner calmly told the judge overseeing the case "I'll take the firing squad, please."  In the hours before his execution, Gardner will be allowed to see his attorney, members of the clergy, and his family.  Then Gardner will be strapped into a chair, with a target pinned on his chest, and 5 anonymous marksmen with .30 caliber rifles will fire behind a "ported" wall.  Heavy criticism abounds regarding this "archaic" and "old West" execution method.  The firing squad execution method has been used three times since 1976.


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