Murderer executed by firing squad in Utah

2010-06-18 08:50

A convicted murderer was executed by a firing squad in Utah today

after a flurry of last-minute bids for mercy were rejected, authorities

said.


Ronnie Lee Gardner (49) was shot through the heart by a five-man

team of sharpshooters at about 6.20am, a spokesperson for the Department of

Corrections told reporters.


In a bizarre twist, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced

on micro-blogging site Twitter he had given the final approval for the

execution.


“I just gave the go-ahead to Corrections Department to proceed with

Gardner’s execution,” Shurtleff tweeted shortly before Gardner was shot. “May

God grant him the mercy he denied his victims.”


Gardner was the first death row inmate to be executed by firing

squad in the United States since 1996.


Execution by firing squad was outlawed by Utah in 2004 but the ban

was not retroactive, allowing Gardner to choose the gruesome method instead of

lethal injection during a hearing in April.


Gardner had spent 25 years on death row for gunning down an

attorney in a failed bid to escape from a court room in 1985 during a murder

trial.


Gardner’s case had renewed debate about use of the death penalty in

the United States and divided family and friends of his victims.


Loved ones of lawyer Michael Burdell, shot dead by Gardner in his

botched escape attempt, have said they were against his execution because

Burdell opposed the death penalty.

 

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