Ronnie Lee Gardner Chooses Firing Squad For Execution

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Normal Ronnie Lee Gardner Chooses Firing Squad For Execution

Post by NiteSpinR on Sat Apr 24, 2010 2:04 am

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April 23rd, 2010



A Utah judge signed a death warrant Friday allowing the state to execute Ronnie Lee Gardner using a five-man firing squad, a spokeswoman for the Utah's state court system told CNN.

Before signing the death warrant, Third District Judge Robin Reese asked Gardner if he wanted to be executed by the method he had chosen previously, spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said.

"I would like the firing squad, please," Gardner replied.

It would be the state's first use of the firing squad since 1996, when John Albert Taylor was executed for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. Taylor said he chose the method to embarrass Utah, which at the time was the only state that offered the firing squad as an option.

Gardner's execution date was set for June 18, 2010. However, Gardner's lawyer said he planned to file an appeal, which could change the date, Volmer said. Gardner was convicted of murder in the 1985 killing of an attorney during a courthouse escape attempt.

A change in Utah's law took the firing squad away as an execution option. But inmates, like Gardner, who have already chosen the firing squad can still be executed that way, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Oklahoma offers the firing squad as an option - but only if lethal injection and electrocution are later found to be unconstitutional, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The country's most famous execution by firing squad was when Gary Gilmore was killed using a firing squad in 1977. Asked for any last words before guns were fired, Gilmore replied: "Let's do it!"

His execution was also the inspiration for Norman Mailer's book "The Executioner's Song."

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Normal Re: Ronnie Lee Gardner Chooses Firing Squad For Execution

Post by charminglane on Sat Apr 24, 2010 12:26 pm

Let him have it! Right between the eyes.
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Normal Re: Ronnie Lee Gardner Chooses Firing Squad For Execution

Post by Wrapitup on Sat Apr 24, 2010 4:52 pm

Agreed. That smirk on his face makes me sick.

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Normal Utah Parole Board Won't Stop Execution By Firing Squad

Post by NiteSpinR on Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:40 am

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June 14, 2010 5:58 p.m. EDT

Utah's Board of Pardons and Parole refused Monday to commute a twice-convicted killer's death sentence, moving him one step closer to execution by firing squad.

Ronnie Lee Gardner, 49, is scheduled to die shortly after midnight on Friday before Utah's firing squad, a relatively rare method of execution.

His lawyer, Andrew Parnes, argued that Gardner was a changed man during two-day commutation hearing last week at the Utah State Prison. Parnes said Gardner regrets killing two men in two escape attempts in 1984 and 1985. But Assistant Attorney General Thomas Brunker pointed to Gardner's "long history of relentless violence."

The parole board determined that the verdict and sentence in Gardner's second murder trial, for the slaying of lawyer Michael Burdell, was "not inappropriate," according to its written decision released Monday. The board also said that Gardner admits his crimes and there is no question of his guilt.

"The board further determines that no sufficient reason exists to grant clemency or to commute Gardner's death sentence," the document said. The decision was unanimous.

Gardner, who had a long history of escapes, was slipped a gun and fatally shot Burdell at a courthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah, on April 2, 1985. He was there for a pretrial hearing in the 1984 slaying of Melvyn Otterstrom, who was killed at the Salt Lake City bar where he was working to earn extra money.

Friends and relatives of Gardner's victims were split over whether he should be executed. Burdell's father and fiancee, along with a close friend of his, told the five-member parole board that Burdell was a pacifist who would not want Gardner put to death.

Otterstrom's cousin, as well as relatives of Nick Kirk, a bailiff wounded in the courthouse incident, supported his execution. But in an emotional statement before the board, Otterstrom's son, Jason, who was 3 when his father was killed, acknowledged he was torn on the issue.

Parnes went before the Utah Supreme Court last week to argue that Gardner should be given a new sentencing hearing. The court has not yet ruled on that request.

"I'm glad that they went with the jury's decision," Tami Stewart, Kirk's daughter, told CNN by telephone Monday. She testified before the board last week that her father's injuries resulted in constant pain and five surgeries. He died in 1995.

"He made his choices, but I still feel bad [for him]," Stewart said of Gardner. "He did make his own choices, and he needs to follow through with his punishment, but it's still hard."

"We think it's obviously the correct outcome," Brunker, the assistant attorney general, told CNN. The board, he said, has not commuted a death sentence since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, although it's not inconceivable that it could. "It's a pretty high burden, I think, to get a death sentence commuted," he said. The board's decision cannot be appealed, he added.

Attempts by CNN to reach Parnes were not immediately successful Monday.

Board members heard testimony regarding Gardner's childhood, which was punctuated by poverty, abuse and neglect. Parnes maintained that jurors in the Burdell trial never heard this evidence -- and presented affidavits from jurors who said it might have persuaded them to decide against the death penalty.

Life in prison without the possibility of parole was not an option for jurors at the time, and Parnes said it was suggested to the jury that Gardner might be released from prison at some point if he were given a life sentence. Gardner pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Otterstrom's death, and jurors were not told of a judge's recommendation in that case that he not be released from prison, Parnes said.

Brunker pointed out in closing arguments Friday that trial jurors didn't hear the evidence regarding Gardner's childhood because he refused to let his attorneys present it. As for the jurors, he said, their main concern was to keep Gardner -- a man who had twice escaped and twice killed during those escapes -- from killing again.

The evidence is an "attempt to shift the blame ... to everybody but Mr. Gardner," he said.

Gardner told the board he doesn't want to "live for the sake of living." He and his brother want to use land they own in northwest Utah for an organic farm for at-risk youths, he testified, in a bid to keep them from making the same mistakes he made. Even if he is executed, he said, his brother will proceed with the plan.

"I think I'm the perfect example of what you shouldn't do," he said.

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Normal Re: Ronnie Lee Gardner Chooses Firing Squad For Execution

Post by jeanne1807 on Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:34 am

Every single time they find a man or woman guilty of molesting or killing a child they should line them up and right between the eyes. That should be the law of the land. No choice.

I saw Huckabee in court the other day. Is John Q Public going to provide her with a long life and a full serving of Fritoes every single day of her miserable life?

I think the firing squad for those that hurt children would be a huge detrament.

I'm just saying.
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Normal Re: Ronnie Lee Gardner Chooses Firing Squad For Execution

Post by misshesitation on Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:31 pm

I wish they would just get it over with! I live in ut and most of us are sick of waiting! It should have been taken care of years ago!
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Normal Ronnie Lee Gardner chooses death by firing squad ending a horrific life

Post by artgal16 on Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:24 pm

How many children have we read about like Ronnie Lee Gardner?
Left hungry and alone, abused physically and sexually and we are outraged
because there was no help for them. He was found at age 2 starving and naked
on a street corner - and given back to his mother. He killed - are we justified
in giving him death?

What's remarkable about the scheduled execution of convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner early Friday morning isn't simply that it will be carried out via firing squad, a grisly vestige of Utah's frontier heritage. It isn't that Gardner murdered poor Michael Burdell more than 25 years ago and is only now about to see his capital sentence enacted. It isn't even that Gardner got a clemency hearing from the draconian Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, which has held only two such hearings since 1977.

The most remarkable thing about the Gardner execution is how utterly typical the condemned man's story is. Indeed, despite its unusually loud ending, the Gardner case is a paradigm of how the death penalty has evolved since it was reinstated by the Supreme Court nearly 40 years ago. It helps explain why the popularity of capital punishment seems to have crested, except in a few areas of the country. And it serves as a valuable lesson to prosecutors, judges and juries who soon may have to face the justice system's most difficult decision.

More prosecutors and legislators are aware of capital punishment's enormous costs, which strain already tightened state budgets. It is not being invoked as often as it had been because more judges and jurors are aware of other sentencing options, like the increasingly popular life in prison without parole. And when the death penalty is imposed it's now more thoroughly reviewed on appeal because the conservative Supreme Court has shown in the past decade that it's getting fed up with murder convictions and sentences that fail to consider mitigating circumstances in the accused's past and the competency of the defense.

"I would like the firing squad, please," Gardner politely told a judge in April, a manner that captured the attention of the national media. But the rare (and perfectly legal) use of a volunteer squad of expert marksmen is no more or less "cruel and unusual" than prison officials scrambling to find a vein to deliver lethal drugs to an inmate on a gurney. It's not so much the means and manner of execution that matter; it's the fact that more Americans seem to be getting sick of traveling the same old road to the death penalty.

The litany of elements in the Gardner story is so familiar it's sadly become trite. The condemned had a horrific childhood that involved sexual and emotional abuse, hunger and poverty. He had no positive role models. His life of crime started early. He turned even worse in prison. The crime was horrible -- he killed Burdell while trying to escape from a courthouse; Burdell, a lawyer, was handling a pro bono case that day. Gardner was convicted by jurors and sentenced by a judge who didn't hear all the mitigating evidence there was to offer. Gardner was a troublemaker in prison who now says he's changed, after psychological treatment, and seeks some sort of 11th-hour redemption. Despite his choice of how to die, he is repentant.

Nearly every step of the way, social services and the criminal justice system failed to adequately respond to the foreseeable catastrophe that was Gardner's unfolding life. And here, too, the narrative is familiar and discouraging. Gardner's home life was atrocious -- he was found famished and nearly naked on the street at age 2, but he was not taken away from his hapless mother. When he got into trouble with the law, before he had even become a teenager, no meaningful and sustained attempts were made to rehabilitate him. The criminal justice system did a sloppy job on its inexorable way toward a conviction. The safety net broke.

As depressing as all that sounds, the Gardner story essentially represents the story of an entire generation of death row inmates who share the same basic characteristics: horrible upbringings, gruesome crimes, guilty verdicts, subsequent repentance; and because of the circumstances of their childhood, they were unlikely to have been condemned to death had the judicial system gotten it right in the first place. These inmates were tried and convicted and sentenced during the 1980s and 1990s, when capital punishment was more popular than it is now. They were unable or unwilling to benefit either from competent defense counsel or proper psychological evaluation. Their prosecutors may have been overzealous; their judges lax.

That the Burdell family does not wish to have their Michael's murderer executed is not nearly as unusual a side note as it might have been a decade ago. Nor, in light of recent gruesome executions by lethal injection, is Gardner's request to choose a rarer and fiery manner of death. Would there be so much attention on Gardner's story if he had chosen lethal injection instead of a firing squad? Probably not. Are we now going to be inundated with firing squad executions? No. This will be just the third since 1976, and there are only five condemned men left in Utah who still have the option of choosing that manner of death. Once they are gone, this tiny sub-angle on capital punishment will go with them.

What will remain are hundreds of other death row inmates across America with life stories similar to Gardner's. The headline here isn't that Gardner is different; the headline is that he is so very much the same.
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Normal Ronnie Lee Gardner Executed, He Was Pronounced Dead at 12:20am.

Post by NiteSpinR on Fri Jun 18, 2010 1:28 am

June 18, 2010 2:42 a.m. EDT

Convicted killer Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed early Friday by firing squad, the Utah Department of Corrections said.

Gardner, 49, is only the third person in 33 years to die by firing squad in the United States.

He was killed at 12:20 a.m. MST (2:20 a.m. ET), a Corrections Department spokesman said.

The execution came after Gardner's last-ditch efforts to save himself had failed.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request Thursday to temporarily stay the execution. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert rejected two appeals by Gardner's attorneys to stop the execution, saying he had every chance to present his case.

Gardner, 49, was convicted for the shooting death of attorney Michael Burdell during a botched escape attempt from custody in 1985 at a Salt Lake City, Utah, courthouse.

Among the claims Gardner raised in his appeals is that he has been a death row inmate too long.

"He asserts that executing him now, after nearly 25 years on death row in Utah, so lacks retributive or deterrent value that it violates the Eighth Amendment," Andrew Parnes, Gardner's lawyer, told the high court.

A federal judge late Tuesday declined to block the execution, after Gardner claimed the procedures related to a two-day commutation hearing held by the state Board of Pardons and Parole last week violated his civil rights. The parole board Monday declined to commute Gardner's sentence to life in prison, and the Utah Supreme Court on Tuesday also denied his request for a stay.

Gardner was the third person to die by rifle fire, all in Utah, since the Supreme Court restored the death penalty in 1976. He had a long history of escapes and was slipped a gun before he fatally shot Burdell on April 2, 1985. He was at the courthouse for a pre-trial hearing in the 1984 slaying of Melvyn Otterstrom, who was killed at the Salt Lake City bar where he was working to earn extra money.

Corrections officials announced Gardner had consumed his last meal Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m., and chose to fast prior to the anticipated execution. His dinner included steak, lobster, 7-Up, apple pie and vanilla ice cream.

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Normal Re: Ronnie Lee Gardner Chooses Firing Squad For Execution

Post by NiteSpinR on Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:01 am


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Normal Re: Ronnie Lee Gardner Chooses Firing Squad For Execution

Post by Guest on Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:23 am

Thanks for the updates and the CNN video.
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Normal Re: Ronnie Lee Gardner Chooses Firing Squad For Execution

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Jun 18, 2010 8:17 am

Artgal, what you posted was quite profound. And, I agree with you. I do not think that children are born as murderer's. This poor guy never stood a chance. I don't blame him for choosing the firing squad. IMO, he was basically saying, "My "life" was never really what you would call a "life" so please...just shoot me and get it over with."

Does this give him the right to kill other's? NO, it most certainly does not. However, you are correct about the 1980's & 90's. You are also correct that "social services did nothing" back when children were young, and most children were sent back to their abusive mothers. I know this for fact.

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Normal Re: Ronnie Lee Gardner Chooses Firing Squad For Execution

Post by artgal16 on Fri Jun 18, 2010 8:35 am

Re Ronnie Gardners background:
According to the evidence presented during Ronnie Gardner’s federal appeals, his childhood was one of abuse and deprivation: His mother suffered from mental illness, the family’s economic circumstances were dire, the children were neglected. The family household was marked by criminality, violence and abuse. Ronnie Gardner suffered meningitis as a child, resulting in possible brain damage. He developed a severe tic, possibly Tourette syndrome. He was sexually abused by an older brother, and later by the man who became his foster carer. He began engaging in substance abuse, such as sniffing paint thinner, from the age of five or six and carried on until he was 18, and was introduced to LSD, marijuana, and alcohol before the age of 10. His stepfather involved him in criminal acts, taking him to Wyoming to steal liquid mercury from oil industry facilities. Ronnie Gardner sustained a number of serious head injuries during his childhood. In a brief filed in May 2010 in state court, his lawyers stated: “The jury convicted Mr Gardner of an intentional killing and sentenced him to death without hearing all these facts. They never heard about the terrible conditions and the moral depravity in the environment of his upbringing. The jury never heard about the physical and sexual abuse and criminality in the household. None of the jurors knew anything about the meningitis, head injuries, inhalant, alcohol and drug abuse, the tic, organic brain syndrome, cognitive and intellectual deficits, impulse disorder, hard signs and radiological evidence of the brain damage.”
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I believe in the death penalty in only extreme circumstances. I felt that he should have had life in prison without parole. There were mitigating circumstances that were not brought up at trial. I can say if I sat on the jury and heard the above I would not have voted for death. I think that people that grow up like this never have one day where they experience pure happiness or joy and do not understand the meaning of mercy -and in my opinion
the State which failed him his whole childhood should have given him mercy now.
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Normal Re: Ronnie Lee Gardner Chooses Firing Squad For Execution

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Jun 18, 2010 8:41 am

I am in complete agreement. Now, someone like Casey Anthony is a completely different story. Her mother may be a biatch, but she had no similarities to what Garnder endured as a child.

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Normal Re: Ronnie Lee Gardner Chooses Firing Squad For Execution

Post by artgal16 on Fri Jun 18, 2010 8:50 am

Casey Anthony as well as JVS grew up with every advantage. I am on the fence when it comes to the death penalty. Most of my life I have been against it.
However crimes have gotten even more heinous as I have grown older and Ive had to rethink it, but I still cant categorically say Im for it most of the times.
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