Pattaya Daily News

17 June 2010 :: 17:06:52 pm 25681

Appeal Squashed: Execution by Firing Squad to Take Place Tonight

A Utah death row inmate who is due to become the third person to die by firing squad in the US in 33 years has appealed to the Supreme Court seeking a last-minute stay of execution.
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Washington 17th June 2010 [Pattaya Daily News] Ronnie Lee Gardner’s lawyers have filed the first of what is expected to be several appeals. He is scheduled to be executed early Friday for the killing of attorney Michael Burdell, and the wounding of the court bailiff, George Kirk during a botched escape from custody in 1985 from the courthouse, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Among his claims, the 49-year-old prisoner raises in his appeals is that he has been on death row too long. He states that executing him now, after nearly 25 years on death row lacks retributive or deterrent value and that it violates the Eighth Amendment. Gardner was sentenced to death on November 1985.

Gardner’s lawyers are pressing the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, to at least postpone the execution.  Late Tuesday, a federal judge denied Gardner’s latest request for a stay of execution, claiming his lawyers had no new evidence to Gardner’s claim that the procedures relating to a two-day commutation hearing held last week violated his civil rights.

Andrew Parnes had argued the clemency hearing was impartial and had not been fair because the representatives from the Utah attorney general’s office were presenting the state’s case at the hearing and also advising the board.

On Monday, the parole board refused to commute Gardner’s sentence to life in prison, and on Tuesday, the Utah Supreme Court denied his request for a stay of execution. Gardner claims he is a changed man, and should not be executed for his crimes after so long.

Gardner is to become the third person to die by a firing squad, since the Supreme Court restored the death penalty in 1976. He has a long history of escapes and managed to access a gun before he fatally shot Burdell on April 2, 1985. Gardner was in court on trial for the murder of bar man Melvyn Otterstrom, who died at the Salt Lake City bar where he was working to earn extra money in 1984.

The execution is set to take place just after midnight on Thursday at the Utah State Prison in Draper. Corrections officials announced Gardner had consumed his last meal Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m., and had elected to fast prior to the anticipated execution. His dinner included steak, lobster, and vanilla ice cream.

Utah is the only state that uses the firing squad as a current execution method. Oklahoma uses it only if lethal injection and electrocution have been ruled an infringement on the persons right. Forty of Utah’s 49 executions in the last 160 years or so have been carried out in this manner according to the Information Center for the death penalty. State law makers elected lethal injection as the default capital punishment in 2004.

Five anonymous marksmen will stand behind a wall with five gun ports. Each will use matching .30-caliber rifle with one rifle being an “ineffective” round, similar to a blank, which will deliver the same recoil as a live round. This will ensure none of the riflemen will know which of them delivered the fatal shot. The marksmen will fire from a distance of 25 feet. The inmate is blindfolded and strapped to a chair with a target pinned to his chest.

Lethal injection remains the most-used execution method in the United States and is the only option in the 35 states still carrying out capital punishment. Nine states still use electrocution, five states have the gas chamber, and two, Washington and New Hampshire, will hang condemned inmates as an alternate method.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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