Fox News - Fair & Balanced
Search Site

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET


Alicia Acuna

Denver, CO


Death by Firing Squad

June 18, 2010 - 2:45 AM | by: Alicia Acuna

UPDATE 12:44am Mountain Time: The execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner was carried out at 12:20 in the morning.

UPDATE 10:37pm Mountain Time: The Utah Department of Corrections says Ronnie Lee Gardner is continuing to watch the final chapter in the movie trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings”.  At 9:30pm this evening, all communication was cut off, meaning clergy and attorneys who had been visiting with the condemned man were exited out.  Gardner continues to await his fate in an observation cell that is just 90 feet from the execution chamber.  Steve Gehrke, the public information office with the Utah Department of Corrections says of the distance between the two rooms, “It’s a very short walk”.

UPDATE 7:30pm Mountain Time:  The Supreme Court of the United States has denied the application for a stay of execution in the death sentence of Ronnie Lee Gardner.  Gardner is scheduled to die by firing squad shortly after midnight, local time tonight.  This was 49-year-old Gardner’s last chance of appeal.

According to the Utah Department of Corrections, Gardner is spending his last hours of life sleeping, reading and watching “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy.

Randy Gardner, Ronnie’s brother told Fox News tonight that his sibling chose firing squad as a way to die because he felt it is appropriate, considering Ronnie Lee Gardner’s victims died from gunshot wounds.  Here is sound from Randy as well as defense attorney Andrew Parnes:

{VignetteVideo assettitl=”Randy+bite1″ id=”4BAC4C809A7C48CE76F225F238C56117″ aspectratio=”1.33″ autoplay=”off” height=”281″ width=”375″ }

{VignetteVideo assettitl=”Randy+bite2″ id=”74B50C72999854329491839D68214E2A” aspectratio=”1.33″ autoplay=”off” height=”281″ width=”375″ }

{VignetteVideo assettitl=”Andrew+Parnes” id=”B2D201D4DD50C61260755714B679BA3F” aspectratio=”1.33″ autoplay=”off” height=”281″ width=”375″ }


Ronnie Lee Gardner chose the method by which he is scheduled to be executed at midnight tonight: death by firing squad.

Gardner, who has been on death row for 25 years, continues to seek a stay of execution. Right now, Gardner’s attorneys are awaiting word from the United States Supreme Court if his request for the high court to review a lower courts decision to allow the execution to continue, will be granted.

Fox News spoke with Tyler Ayres, Gardner’s personal attorney for the past two years, about his impending fate and his choice. Ayres says, “One of the things that Ronnie has said to me multiple times is, ‘live by the gun, die by the gun’. And he does feel that both of his victims died…as a result of gun shot wounds and he does feel there is a measure of appropriateness, that he should die by a gunshot wound.”

In 1985, a jury condemned Gardner to death for shooting and killing Michael Burdell, a Utah attorney. The shooting occurred at the old Salt Lake Courthouse, where Gardner was about to attend a hearing to face charges for murdering bartender Melvyn Otterstrom, when Gardner, attempted to escape.

He used a handgun that was slipped to him by an ex-girlfriend in the courthouse, to kill Burdell and shoot and wound bailiff George “Nick” Kirk. Kirk died ten years later. His family says Kirk was never able to live the full life he had always known, after the shooting.

Right now, Gardner is on 24-hour surveillance inside a 10 by 6 foot observation cell, adjacent to the execution chamber. He met with his family last night, prior to being transferred to the last prison cell he may ever see again.

According to the Utah Department of Corrections, shortly before midnight, Gardner will be taken into the execution chamber, a room where he will be strapped into a chair. Gardner will be allowed to say his final words, before a cover is placed on his head and a round target will be placed over his heart. Five executioners, with rifles will then await the order to shoot. Four of them will shoot .30 caliber bullets, one will have a blank. All five remain nameless.

If completed, this will be Utah’s first death by firing squad since 1996. The state did away with the option in 2004, but inmates who had chosen the method prior to the change in law, may still be executed with this method.

Oklahoma is the only other state that uses the firing squad, but that state only keeps it on the books, in the event that lethal injection is one day deemed unconstitutional.

blog comments powered by Disqus