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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Death Row Inmate Chooses Firing Squad

    Convicted Utah killer to face firing squad

    Ronnie Lee Gardner signaled his preference before Utah all but banned the practice in 2004

    By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times
    April 23, 2010 | 4:01 p.m.

    A Utah inmate facing the death penalty for a violent 1985 escape attempt is scheduled to die on June 18 by firing squad, an execution method that has been phased out in nearly every state, including Utah.

    Ronnie Lee Gardner elected Friday to face a firing squad under a provision of state law that exempts five death row inmates who signaled their preference to die by firing squad before Utah all but banned the old, frontier-style practice in 2004.

    "I would like the firing squad, please," Gardner, 49, told District Judge Robin Reese during Friday's hearing in Salt Lake City.

    The case has renewed calls among death penalty opponents in Utah for an end to executions by all methods, and particularly those by firing squad.

    "Even Utah has decided that it's so barbaric that it actually is no longer an option for people sentenced to death today," said Ralph Dellapiana, death penalty project director for High Road for Human Rights, one of a coalition of death penalty opponents in Utah.

    "It's kind of a shock to the community when there's actually going to be somebody put up against a wall and killed," he said.

    Utah is the only state that still actively uses firing squads. A state law in 2004 ruled out such executions except if death by lethal injection is found to be unconstitutional. Oklahoma has a similar provision, but that state allows firing squads only if both lethal injection and electrocution are ruled unconstitutional.

    "In the future, convicted felons will not have a choice," Utah State Rep. Sheryl Allen, a Republican who carried the 2004 legislation, said in an interview. "Number one, I believe it should be the decision of the state, and not the executed criminal; and number two, the firing squad just attracts an inordinate amount of attention. Execution is unfortunate, period, but in this case people concentrate on the method, rather than the victims."

    Tom Brunker, head of the state attorney general's capital punishment appeals section, said death by firing squad would still be allowed if the U.S. Supreme Court declared lethal injection unconstitutional on its face, or if a defendant with medical constraints connected to lethal injection successfully argued that it would be unconstitutional to force him to undergo the procedure.

    The law phasing out firing squads was not retroactively applied to Gardner and four other inmates who had already signaled their preference to die by firing squad before 2004 because lawmakers did not want to provide them with additional grounds for appeals, Allen said.

    Utah's most famous inmate to die by firing squad was Gary Gilmore, whose demand to be executed for two murders he committed in Utah led to his execution in 1977, the first execution of any kind after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

    The nation's only other firing squad execution since was in 1996, when another Utah inmate, John Albert Taylor, died after being found guilty of raping and strangling an 11-year-old girl.

    Gardner, who fatally shot a lawyer and wounded a court bailiff during an attempted courthouse escape in 1985, initially requested a firing squad, later changed his mind and asked for lethal injection, but on Friday confirmed his initial decision.

    He told the Deseret News in 1996 that he would sue for the right to die by firing squad. "I guess it's my Mormon heritage," he told the paper. "I like the firing squad. It's so much easier … and there's no mistakes."

    His lawyer, Andrew Parnes, said he would not comment on his client's selection.

    "That's his personal decision. Under Utah law, he gets to choose," he said.

    Parnes said he is filing a notice of appeal with the Utah Supreme Court arguing that the court failed to adequately consider the defense's earlier complaint that Gardner was not provided with the resources to present a full mitigation defense when his death sentence was under initial review.

    His lawyers later were provided with the resources during Gardner's federal appeals.

    Parnes also presented statements from friends and relatives of the lawyer slain during the escape attempt, Michael Burdell, that Burdell would not have advocated the death penalty.

    "Michael Burdell was basically a generous and law-abiding and pacifist-type person who would not have wanted the death penalty for him," Parnes said.

    But Reese on Friday concluded that the defendant had exhausted his legal remedies. "There is nothing in the arguments today to cause further reflection," he said, according to local news reports.

    kim.murphy@latimes.com

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld ... 1645.story
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator GeorgiaPeach's Avatar
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    When I heard this today, I did a double take. I had no idea that firing squads were still used in the United States. Evidently, this will be the close of that practice, but interesting that Mr. Gardner chose this.

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    Matthew 19:26
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  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgiaPeach
    When I heard this today, I did a double take. I had no idea that firing squads were still used in the United States. Evidently, this will be the close of that practice, but interesting that Mr. Gardner chose this.
    Hanging is still legal some places too.

    Methods of Execution


    Usage of lethal injection for executions in the United States
    Color key:
    State uses only this method

    State uses this method primarily but has secondary methods

    State has never used this method
    Number of executions each year by the method used in the United States and the earlier colonies from 1608 to 2004. The adoption of electrocution caused a marked drop off in the number of hangings, which was used even less with the use of the gas chamber. After Gregg v. Georgia, most states changed to lethal injection, leading to its rise.Various methods have been used in the history of the American colonies and the United States but only five methods are currently used. Historically, burning, pressing, breaking on wheel and bludgeoning were used for a small number of executions, while hanging was the most common method. The last person burned to death was a black slave in South Carolina in August 1825.[69] The last person to be hanged in chains was a murderer named John Marshall in West Virginia on April 4, 1913. Although decapitation was a legal method in Utah for the second half of the 19th century, it was never employed.[70]

    Currently lethal injection is the method used or allowed in all of the 37 states which allow the death penalty. Nebraska required electrocution, but in 2008 the state supreme court ruled the method is unconstitutional. In mid 2009 Nebraska officially changed its method of execution to lethal injection.[71][72][73] Other states also allow electrocution, gas chambers, hanging and the firing squad. From 1976 to April 20, 2010 there were 1,201 executions, of which 1,028 were by lethal injection, 157 by electrocution, 11 by gas chamber, 3 by hanging, and 2 by firing squad.[74]

    The method of execution of federal prisoners for offenses under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 is that of the state in which the conviction took place. If the state has no death penalty, the judge must choose a state with the death penalty for carrying out the execution. For offenses under the 1988 Drug Kingpin Law, the method of executions is lethal injection. Federal Correctional Complex, Terre Haute is currently the home of the only death chamber for federal death penalty recipients in the United States, where they receive lethal injection.

    The use of lethal injection has almost become standard. From June 2000 to July 20, 2006, only 6 out of 387 executions have been by a different method. The last execution by any other method was the use of the electric chair on March 18, 2010 when Paul Powell was executed in Virginia. The last use of the gas chamber occurred on March 3, 1999 when Walter LaGrand was executed in Arizona,[75] the last use of hanging was on 25 January 1996 when Delaware hanged Billy Bailey and the firing squad was also last used in 1996 when John Albert Taylor was shot in Utah on January 26.

    Montana, until recently, was one of three states allowing the execution of a death sentence by hanging:

    The punishment of death must be inflicted by administration of a continuous, intravenous injection of a lethal quantity of an ultra-fast-acting barbiturate in combination with a chemical paralytic agent until a coroner or deputy coroner pronounces that the defendant is dead.
    —Montana Code Annotated 46-19-103 (3).[76]

    The remaining two states that allow hanging[77] are New Hampshire, which allows it by decision of the Corrections officials,[78] and in Washington State, at the choice of the defendant.[79]

    The electric chair was the major method of execution during most of the 20th century. They developed a special nickname: Old Sparky (however, Alabama's electric chair became known as the "Yellow Mama" due to its unique color). Some, particularly in Florida, were noted for malfunctions, which caused discussion of their cruelty and resulted in a shift to lethal injection as the major method of execution. Although lethal injection dominates as a method of execution, some states allow an alternate method and a few states allow at least some death-row inmates to choose the method by which they will be executed.

    Regardless of the method, an hour or two before the execution, the condemned person is offered religious services, and a last meal. Executions are carried out in private with only invited persons able to view the proceedings.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_pu ... ted_States
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  4. #4
    Super Moderator GeorgiaPeach's Avatar
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    I guess the fact that we do not hear of these things being used very often, it just really stands out. I was not aware of the hanging provision either.

    John 14:27 (King James Version)
    It is written,... Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
    Matthew 19:26
    But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
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