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May 19, 2010

Utah murderer who selected firing squad as execution method to get (high-profile) commutation hearing

As detailed in this local story, which is headlined "Board of Pardons agrees to hold hearing for Ronnie Lee Gardner," spotlights why the selection of a firing squad by a Utah killer might have been a shrewd strategic decision.  Here are the basics:

Less than a week before his scheduled execution by firing squad, Ronnie Lee Gardner will appear before the Board of Pardons to ask to have his sentence changed to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  A commutation hearing has been scheduled for Gardner, 49, for June 10 and 11, and filings in the case boil down to one question — whether the death row inmate deserves any mercy.

Gardner's attorneys believe his sentence is too harsh when compared to the others who have been executed in Utah, and the lawyers argue that the state should show "mercy" for Gardner, who they say is "no longer the same man who committed the crime for which he is sentenced to death."

The Utah Attorney General's Office responded by expressing an opposite view. "There is no question about Gardner's guilt," prosecutor Tom Brunker wrote. "Gardner has not shown that he is entitled to mercy or that the Board of Pardons should set aside a jury's sentence that the judiciary has found to be constitutionally sound, even after 25 years of review."

The decision by Gardner to select a firing squad as the method of execution likely ensures that his commutation hearing will get significantly more national and international attention than most such hearings.  Though that may have not been a reason why he made this choice, it is going to be interesting to see whether and how that choice plays into Utah's commutation process.

May 19, 2010 at 07:04 PM | Permalink


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I am a student at the university here in Sacramento, CA. Government major with minors in Anthropology and Sociology.

I enjoy reading the blogs, because I hope and aspire to become a research writer, hopefully someone connected with prison issues.

Thank you, I am learning a lot from your blogs.

Posted by: Ann-Belinda Honablezh | May 21, 2010 11:42:32 PM

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