Utah has carried out the wishes of convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner and executed him by firing squad. Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court refused a request to stay the execution.
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. A hood was placed over Gardner’s head and a paper target pinned to his chest. He was heavily restrained as a five-person firing squad took aim at the target and shot him, witnesses said. Journalists who witnessed the shooting said it happend quickly. One reporter said she noticed that Gardner moved after he was shot. “It was over pretty quickly,” said Cheryl Worsley, a local radio reporter. “It was cleaner than I expected. It was fast. But he moved. He moved a little bit, and to some degree that bothers me.” Outside the prison in Draper Utah, there was a candlelight vigil attended by members of Gardner’s family.
As I mentioned here back in April, only two other persons have been executed by firing squad since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Both executions took place in Utah. The death penalty has been abolished in 98 countries.