News | Utah

Death Row Inmate Executed by Firing Squad in Utah


Ronnie Lee Gardner, a convicted murderer, was executed by firing squad last night in Utah:

Gardner "A death row inmate who had used a gun to fatally shoot two men suffered the same fate Friday morning as he was executed by a team of marksmen – the first time Utah used the firing squad to carry out a death sentence in 14 years. A barrage of bullets tore into Ronnie Lee Gardner's chest where a target was pinned over his heart. Two minutes later an ashen Gardner, blood pooling in his dark blue jumpsuit, was pronounced dead at 12:17 a.m. He was the third man to die by firing squad since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976...The five executioners, certified police officers who volunteered for the task and remain anonymous, stood about 25 feet away, behind a wall cut with a gunport, and were armed with matching .30-caliber Winchester rifles. One was loaded with a blank so no one knows who fired the fatal shot. Sandbags stacked behind Gardner's chair kept the bullets from ricocheting around the cinderblock room. Utah Department of Corrections Director Thomas Patterson said the countdown cadence went '5-4-3...' with the shooters starting to fire at the count of 2..."

Watch a new Amnesty International spot, called 'Death to the Death Penalty',

Amnesty International from Digital District™ VFX Post-Pro on Vimeo.

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  1. Utah's guillotine was apparently out of order.

    Posted by: crispy | Jun 18, 2010 9:39:12 AM

  2. I don't have a problem with the death penalty.

    Posted by: Wes | Jun 18, 2010 9:52:42 AM

  3. I agree, Wes, as long as it's 100% clear the person is guilty, which in this case, he was.

    Posted by: Michael W. | Jun 18, 2010 9:59:50 AM

  4. Isn't it ironic....the tragic illusion that we can teach that killing is wrong by killing.
    Capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime. State-sanctioned murder is barbaric.

    Posted by: excy | Jun 18, 2010 10:06:02 AM

  5. Wes and Michael best not pretend they are Jewish or Christian.

    Thou Shall Not Kill ...

    The Supreme Court should outlaw firing squads ... it is the behavior of an under developed society.

    This shames the Nation.

    Posted by: Walter | Jun 18, 2010 10:13:36 AM

  6. I will remain anti-capital punishment until crooked legislators and public officials are also executed.

    Posted by: esther blodgett | Jun 18, 2010 10:20:56 AM

  7. when I saw the first words in the headline, I was thinking "what country?"

    then I saw Utah

    fuck :-/

    Posted by: neverstops | Jun 18, 2010 10:23:10 AM

  8. Ehrenstein is next!

    Posted by: GrabbinNewscum | Jun 18, 2010 10:27:33 AM

  9. Don't let the form of execution distract you; strapping someone to a gurney and pumping poison into their veins is no less barbaric than firing bullets into their heart.

    Posted by: Glenn | Jun 18, 2010 10:34:59 AM

  10. I'm always surprised/shocked when I see anyone, unless they're right-wing nut cases, who is for the death penalty. I keep having to remind myself that the US is so forward-thinking on so many issues (try comparing what's happening with gay rights in America with what's happening in Italy, which is where I live), but still stuck in the middle ages when it comes to capital punishment.

    Posted by: LemmyC | Jun 18, 2010 10:41:50 AM

  11. They ... volunteered? Who the hell would volunetter to execute someone? Barbarism!

    Posted by: Bob | Jun 18, 2010 10:45:52 AM

  12. I dont personally agree with the death penalty, but the guy chose his own method of execution here. I wonder if he saw an irony in it and may be thought it a way to, ultimately, win.

    Posted by: Rovex | Jun 18, 2010 10:58:38 AM

  13. So many anti-capital punishment posts and yet probably all in favor of abortion.....go figure...

    Posted by: clay | Jun 18, 2010 11:03:07 AM

  14. What's barbaric is that it took 25-years to carry out the sentence of the court.

    Posted by: Ted B. | Jun 18, 2010 11:04:13 AM

  15. @Clay-Are you the anti abortion/pro death penalty type?

    Posted by: zrt | Jun 18, 2010 11:13:34 AM

  16. Actually, I take the stance that all death at the hands of fellow humans is wrong... war, death penalty,'s all senseless. I don't know how you can be against one and favor another, it's all hypocritical.

    Posted by: clay | Jun 18, 2010 11:18:02 AM

  17. Clay, I am pro-choice and anti-capital punishment. In my view, a fetus is not a human being with all the rights that implies. I understand you probably feel differently, and I do not intend to try to convince you. But mine is not a "hypocritical" position -- I believe there is a highly relevant distinction between the situations.

    Posted by: Glenn | Jun 18, 2010 11:41:03 AM

  18. So basically you have five police officers who volunteered to kill someone. How are they any different than the murderer? Disgusting.

    Posted by: homer | Jun 18, 2010 11:42:21 AM

  19. @Walter: Um, I didn't say I was Christian or Jewish. And by the way, if you use the bible as your reference to debate this, then you have to admit everything else in the bible is correct, like all that bullshit in Leviticus. 'Can't pick and choose...

    Oh, and if it wasn't for all the killin' in the crusades, Christianity might have died out a lonnng time ago.

    Posted by: Michael W. | Jun 18, 2010 11:46:54 AM

  20. @clay:

    because a collection of gestating cells is not a human being.

    Posted by: robert | Jun 18, 2010 11:53:12 AM

  21. I think of abortion and the death penalty the same way, should be legal and rare.

    Since it seems to be important to some, I consider myself agnostic.

    Posted by: PDX Guy | Jun 18, 2010 11:54:22 AM

  22. The death penalty, whatever the method, is barbaric. If you want to really be a leader of the free world, then it needs to be abolished.

    Some comments here, of the ilk of 'not having a problem with the death penalty'are just scary. If you want equal rights for LGBT people how can you reconcile it with state murder? Seemingly it is ok to hold suspected terrorists in prison in perpetuity to keep people from harm, so why not have this solution for murderers?

    Posted by: Sean R | Jun 18, 2010 12:00:59 PM

  23. @Robert:

    A child well developed into second or third trimester is more than a collection of gestating cells. Watch a late term abortion sometime....sick and twisted!

    Posted by: clay | Jun 18, 2010 12:17:20 PM

  24. I ashamed to be an American today. We are the only industrialized country to practice this barbaric act. The State should not be allowed to take human life. And to utilize a firing squad should shows how primitive and barbaric our society can be.

    Posted by: David Comfort | Jun 18, 2010 12:19:28 PM

  25. I've mostly been against the death penalty all along. But what does a society gain by keeping the Jeffrey Dahmers and alive? And somehow it doesn't seem fair that someone who plans and carries out the murder of another citizen should be allowed to live. You cash in your chips when you decide that you need to go through with the execution of another person.
    I know that there are many opposing arguments: what if they were falsely accused, state sanctioned murder makes everyone murderers, etc. but these are some of the questions I have.

    Posted by: D. R. H. | Jun 18, 2010 12:27:18 PM

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