A man was put to death early this morning for a crime he committed in 1985….by firing squad.
Ronnie Lee Gardner was sentenced to death for the 1985 killing of Utah attorney Michael J. Burdell. He shot Burdell in the head during his attempt to escape from a court house. He too was shot and captured. Gardner chose death by firing squad over lethal injection when he was sentenced back in 2004, before the option was eliminated. Gardner walked willingly to his execution and offered no last words. Media witnesses were on hand but Gardner declined to have his family present. The family could be found outside holding a candle light vigil for Gardner.
There was a black hood placed over the head of the condemned as he was fastened into his chair. Witnesses say he hands were clinched the moment he sat down and remained so until the curtain was drawn after the shooting. The shooters of the squad were all police officers that had volunteered for the job and will remain anonymous. The stood behind a wall with gun ports cut out of it, about 25 feet in front of Gardner. Each officer had a .30 caliber Winchester rifle. One of the rifles was loaded with blanks so no one knows for sure who fired the bullet that ended Gardner’s life. Gardner sat with his head, shoulders, chest, waist, wrists and ankles cuffed into a chair with a wood paneling wall behind him and sandbags around him to prevent ricochet. After the warden secured the hood, everyone exited the room. Shortly after that, the firing squad took aim and carried out the punishment. Although members of the media present say there seemed to be no warning to Gardner. Like he didn’t know it was coming.
“I think we were all struck as we were talking after how deceiving the sense of time was,” media witness Doug Fabrizio said. “Particularly the time from when the warden left and Mr. Gardner was there alone to when the shots were fired. It’s hard to get a sense of that. We didn’t hear a command. It just happened.”
Although the witnesses didn’t hear it, the corrections director claimed that the squad took aim and counted down from 5, opening fire at 2. After Gardner was pronounced dead and the area was cleaned up, the witnesses were allowed to observe the area. According to them there were 4 bullet holes in the wood paneling behind where Gardner had been sitting indicating that the bullets traveled through Gardner’s body.
The squad fired at 12:15 AM on Friday, June 18 and Ronnie Lee Gardner was pronounced dead 2 minutes later.
As soon as I saw this as a story on the news last night I was intrigued. A man was being put to death by firing squad for shooting a man. I thought it kind of ironic that he was being put to death the same way he had put someone to death. After thinking a bit more, I decided that this is how all death sentences should be. Think about it for a minute. What if we took Timothy McVeigh, the maniac behind the Oklahoma City bombings, and strapped him to a gurney but instead of injecting him with a lethal substance, we put him in a building that was about to be imploded? Prisoners can be on death row for years, I am sure there will be a building being blown up somewhere, all we have to do is wait. If shoot someone, you get shot. If you stab someone, you get stabbed. If you beat someone to death, we are breaking out the Louisville Sluggers.
To all of you who claim that they still have rights and that this kind of punishment is wrong can kiss my big fat ass. These criminals gave up their rights when they decided to take another human beings life. If you have a problem with it, get a placard and a candle and join their families on the clink’s front lawn because all the people with blinders on should be grouped together. And to the same group that is out there on the lawn, what would your stance be if the victim was one of your family members? Don’t try to convince yourself that you would still say it’s wrong, in fact I’m willing to bet you would want to pull the trigger.
I know for sure I would.
sources: CBS News, Desert News