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Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Old 06-14-10, 06:13 PM
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Execution by firing squad set for friday night

http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/06/14/...ex.html?hpt=T2

Utah parole board won't stop execution by firing squad

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.
Left out of this article is the fact that he chose the firing squad himself over lethal injection. In an interview with his lawyer on the radio - his lawyer said he chose the firing squad because he thought it was so absurd that there was no way they would go through with it and that he'll be given more options.. looks like that ain't gonna happen.
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Old 06-14-10, 06:26 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Yeah, some piss-poor reporting there. Since they do all they can to make it sound like a horrible, archaic method of execution, they should at least point out that he is in a small group of prisoners that have a choice between that and lethal injection due to some changes in the law. Newly condemned prisoners must be executed by lethal injection. As to his logic -- BANG.
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Old 06-14-10, 06:30 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

It's in Oklahoma law that if the courts hold lethal injection to be cruel & unusual punishment, the firing squad can be used.
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Old 06-14-10, 06:34 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Originally Posted by classicman2 View Post
It's in Oklahoma law that if the courts hold lethal injection to be cruel & unusual punishment, the firing squad can be used.
That'll teach those damned courts.


Although I have no issue if they greatly increase the sedative dose to ensure it is humane. What's the worst the could happen, you die before the other two drugs get there?
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Old 06-14-10, 06:36 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

My understanding is that Utah still has the firing squad as an option because of the Mormon belief that the only way to atone for murder is through the shedding of one's own blood.
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Old 06-14-10, 06:39 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
My understanding is that Utah still has the firing squad as an option because of the Mormon belief that the only way to atone for murder is through the shedding of one's own blood.
They have it because they used to have it. They passed a law requiring lethal injection, but prisoners sentenced before the effective date can choose. Later prisoners can't.

But I don't remember the dates, quite a while ago but I'd have to search. My reaction when I read the date was that he has been a death row a long time and justice grinds slowly.

Edit: Per Wikipedia:
Method
Executions in Utah are currently performed at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah by lethal injection. The firing squad is also available for five remaining death row inmates prior to its elimination as an option in 2004.

Last edited by OldDude; 06-14-10 at 06:43 PM.
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Old 06-14-10, 07:13 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

That is a poor article. I had read about this case last week.
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Old 06-14-10, 07:18 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

That's one of those times you hope those sons a bitches can shoot.
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Old 06-14-10, 07:37 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Not to get all morbid, but if I had to be executed by one of the standard methods, I think I'd go with the firing squad. Electrocution---no thanks. Hanging, eh, I guess that would be my second choice. Lethal injection REALLY creeps me out though----being strapped down while some doctor calmly ends your life in a sterile, controlled manner..ughhh. That almost makes me ill just thinking about it.


Plus, there's something kind of kick-ass about going out with a firing squad---they needed 10 guys with guns to take me out, man!
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Old 06-14-10, 07:42 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

A doctor doesn't end your life.
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Old 06-14-10, 07:54 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Originally Posted by classicman2 View Post
A doctor doesn't end your life.
Thanks a lot, Obamacare!
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Old 06-14-10, 07:58 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Here I was hoping this was about BP executives.
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Old 06-14-10, 08:01 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Originally Posted by Ky-Fi View Post
Hanging, eh, I guess that would be my second choice.
Then feel free to come to Washington for your capital murder needs.
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Old 06-14-10, 08:37 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Originally Posted by the big train View Post
Then feel free to come to Washington for your capital murder needs.
I'm not quite ready yet. It's probably going to take about 3 or 4 more World Cup matches for the incessant drone of the vuvuzelas to drive me to murder.
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Old 06-14-10, 11:01 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

what happens if you don't die from the first volley? does the warden finish you off with a bullet to the head?
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Old 06-15-10, 07:46 AM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Not to worry - you die on the first volley. A second one is not needed.
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Old 06-15-10, 08:49 AM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

I just don't understand how the firing squad is considered inhumane. It might be pretty terrible for the audience to watch but it seems to me to be the quickest of all current forms of execution (hanging, electrocution, lethal injection). Maybe to be beat only by the guillotine.
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Old 06-15-10, 09:02 AM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Firing squads, lethal injection and the human body
Death penalty Gunshots, if they hit the mark, are the quickest -- but are they painless?

By Kirsten Stewart
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 06/13/2010 12:43:01 AM MDT
Convicted for killing a man over a game of cards, Wallace Wilkerson strode to his execution in a white felt hat, carrying a cigar and refusing to be blindfolded or strapped to a chair. He would die, "like a man," he said, "looking my executioners right in the eye."

But at the command to fire, Wilkerson drew up his shoulders, shifting the target fixed to his shirt and misdirecting the shooters. Four slugs tore into his body, missing his heart and pitching him into the dirt screaming, "Oh, my God! My God! They have missed."

A full 27 minutes later, he was pronounced dead.

Though terribly botched, the 1879 execution was an anomaly. Most firing squads -- by choice or default, the most popular means of execution in Utah -- have been fast and flawless. Only one other time, in 1951, did shooters miss their mark, leaving the condemned to bleed to death.

If all goes as rehearsed with modern-day law enforcement sharpshooters and the condemned strapped to a chair, the shredding of the heart and lungs by four .30-caliber slugs causes an almost immediate loss of consciousness, said Utah Medical Examiner Todd Grey. Only a shot to the head, rejected for disfiguring the body, would be more lethal, "almost instantaneous,"he said.

Lethal injection, by comparison, is slow and has been more error-prone. It's more expensive, complicated and ethically troublesome for the medical community, leading a pediatrician in Ohio to question the popular assumption that it's more humane.

"I'm personally opposed to capital punishment," said Jonathan Groner, associate professor of surgery at Ohio State University and the director of Trauma Programs at Ohio's Children's Hospital. But "in terms of duration and dependability, the firing squad wins."

Utah lawmakers abandoned the firing squad in 2004, responding to the public's growing distaste for an execution method perceived as a bloody throwback to the Wild West.

Some death row inmates, like Ronnie Lee Gardner -- sentenced to die June 18 by firing squad -- could choose to be grandfathered in. But the method in vogue now, and for the foreseeable future, is lethal injection.

Borrowing from anesthesiology, lethal injection has "medicalized" the process, making it more sterile, distant and publicly palatable, Utah death penalty observer and Weber State University professor Kay Gillespie writes in The Unforgiven: Utah's Executed Men.

"Even the terminology -- gurney, solution, IV -- sounds more like an operation than an execution, more like a surgical procedure than a sentence of the justice system," he said.

There are variations, but in Utah, lethal injection involves strapping an inmate onto a gurney and inserting an IV, or intravenous line, into each arm. An anesthetic, sodium thiopental, is given at massive doses to extinguish consciousness. Then flows a paralytic agent, which stops the inmate's breathing, followed by a fatal dose of potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Dying in "one's sleep" is supposed to be painless and preferable to:

A gunshot wound.

Hanging, at best a minutes-long process in which the cervical spine is broken, the diaphragm is paralyzed and the prisoner suffocates.

Gas chambers, or asphyxiation by cyanide gas.

Electrocution, which has left prisoners bloodied and burned, with some requiring repeated jolts before they stopped breathing.

But in 2006, a federal judge found evidence that prisoners executed by lethal injection in California had not stopped breathing before technicians gave the paralytic, raising the possibility that prisoners felt pain or were slowly suffocated by the paralytic.

And news accounts detail rare instances of IV lines failing (one kinked, one clogged and another popped out, spraying witnesses with its contents), and more commonly, the prolonged poking and prodding of prisoners for a suitable vein. Lethal injection isn't performed by medically trained professionals since doctors are ethically prohibited from participating.

In Ohio in 2009, Romell Broom's execution was called off after two hours of hunting for an injection site. The convicted murderer, kidnapper and rapist's fate is still being weighed in court as lawyers argue whether it's legal to re-execute someone.

There is no way to objectively compare one person's agony to another's, said Groner. "But would you rather get shot or have someone poke around in your arms for an hour?"

The absence of a medical expert isn't addressed by Ohio's new, simpler one-drug execution method, nor by machines purchased by some states to monitor an inmate's heart rate, oxygen levels and brain waves. Not all inmates are monitored, and there's still ample room for human error, said Groner. "People are being tortured for lack of expertise."

So where does that leave states looking to upgrade their death machinery?

"There is no humane way to execute, but we pretend there is," wrote Gillespie, neither a critic nor apologist for the death penalty. "It is as though we have tried to totally camouflage the procedure to avoid any semblance of death. The fact may be that in many subtle ways, lethal injection is more cruel than previous methods."

Common sense dictates gunshot wounds hurt. How much?

"I wouldn't care to speculate," said Grey, whose office performs autopsies on the state's executed and issues their death certificates. "It's all killing. I guess it's a matter of personal preference."

Firing squad facts
Number of executions Utah has conducted 50 executions since 1852, 40 by firing squad.

Time to die 15.4 seconds to 27 minutes

Last firing squad John Albert Taylor in 1996

Unusual John W. Deering in 1938 allowed a prison doctor to monitor his heart rate on an electrocardiogram. It went from 72 beats per minute to 180 when he was strapped into chair. His heart stopped beating 15.6 seconds after the bullets entered his body.

Source: "The Unforgiven: Utah's Executed Men" by Weber State University professor L. Kay Gillespie
http://www.sltrib.com/D=g/ci_15279879

As cman said, no second volley needed. Death will occur fairly quickly.
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Old 06-15-10, 09:31 AM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Do you (forum members) know how far away the firing squad is from the 'subject' at the warehouse where the executions are conducted in Utah?
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Old 06-15-10, 09:37 AM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Originally Posted by Ky-Fi View Post
... Hanging, eh, I guess that would be my second choice...
The problem with hanging is that if it isn't done right, you don't die right away and are slowly suffocated over a period of 20 or 30 minutes.

But I agree that lethal injection is freaky. I would take the firing squad over lethal injection.
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Old 06-15-10, 10:02 AM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Originally Posted by classicman2 View Post
Do you (forum members) know how far away the firing squad is from the 'subject' at the warehouse where the executions are conducted in Utah?
excerpt

Then, after a final check for a stay with the Utah attorney general's office, comes the order to the executioners, who fire from a distance of about 25 feet.

The gunmen stand behind a wall cut with a gunport, their rifles bench-rested to assure accuracy, DeLand said.

The guns are handed out randomly to the officers. One will be loaded with a blank, so no one will know who fired the fatal shot. By law, the identities of those selected for the firing squad remain secret.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37577686...ime_and_courts
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Old 06-15-10, 10:32 AM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Five shooters, one blank. It might be fairer to say they won't know who DIDN'T fire the fatal shot.
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Old 06-15-10, 01:39 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Originally Posted by wishbone View Post
http://www.sltrib.com/D=g/ci_15279879

As cman said, no second volley needed. Death will occur fairly quickly.
Okay, that article says, "Time to die 15.4 seconds to 27 minutes".

A quarter of a minute doesn't sound very fast to me.
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Old 06-15-10, 01:59 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Originally Posted by Sean O'Hara View Post
Okay, that article says, "Time to die 15.4 seconds to 27 minutes".

A quarter of a minute doesn't sound very fast to me.
The article mentioned an "almost immediate loss of consciousness" with the body likely expiring several seconds later. "Almost instantaneous" would be the head shot.
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Old 06-15-10, 04:05 PM
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Re: Execution by firing squad set for friday night

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
My understanding is that Utah still has the firing squad as an option because of the Mormon belief that the only way to atone for murder is through the shedding of one's own blood.
If you talk to some Mormons, it's not necessary to murder someone to be subject to blood atonement.
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