On Friday afternoon, death row prisoner Ronnie Lee Gardner was awarded the death penalty by Utah state judge Robin Reese; who was coincidentally one of my judges.
Gardner has been incarcerated since the mid-80′s, after he attempted an escape while in court, subsequently killing a lawyer, and injuring a bailiff. He was originally brought to court, on that day, for a 1984 robbery and bar shooting. Ever since that little slip-up, he’s been awaiting his fate on death row–which, if I were in his position, I would have offed myself a long time ago. No amount of life is worth potatoes in every meal, and an intestinal track like a taffy pull.
This isn’t the first time that the state of Utah has been in the national spotlight for murdering someone. Back in 1976, a few short months after the Supreme Court gave the thumbs-up to capital punishment, Gary Gilmore became the first man to be executed after the reinstatement. He was killed, via firing squad, in the only state that delivers justice like four bullets to the heart.
On the 24th, Ronnie Gardner politely told the judge that he would “like the firing squad, please.” Robin Reese then signed a document OK’ing Gardner’s execution, putting it in his iCal for June 18th, noon-ish. Back in 1985, but when death warrants were issued for him in ’90 and ’96 he chose lethal injection. All those dates being stayed by appeals; which apparently he has the ability to do at least one more time.
The last person to be executed, via firing squad, was John Albert Taylor in 1996, who said that he selected the method to “embarrass the state.” Gardner says that he chose this method due to his “Mormon faith.” Which makes as little sense to you, as it does to me. If he wanted to die a traditional LDS death, it would have something to do with being stoned for drinking Mountain Dew and resisting indoctrination via green Jello.
Ronnie’s story has garnered an unnecessary amount of attention all over the world; with some stating that the firing squad is inhumane (though electrocuting someone isn’t?), and others saying that he shouldn’t be put to death at all. I’m no fan of capital punishment, but I don’t deny that some individuals may be better off tits up. So the guy wants to be shot at? Who cares. The only problem that I have with that, is that it’s far more difficult to get into the viewing, than with any other method.
Oh, and thankfully Utah’s tourism won’t be affected. I was really concerned about that.