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February 10, 2012

Another Utah condemned selects firing squad for execution method

As reported in this local article, headlined "State will accept firing squad request in Archuleta execution," Utah is on a path to conducting another execution by firing squad in the months ahead. Here are the basics:

Utah death row inmate Michael Archuleta has chosen the firing squad to carry out his April 5 death sentence for a 1988 murder. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says the state won’t oppose it.

Archuleta was sentenced to death for the Nov. 22, 1988, murder of Southern Utah University student Gordon Ray Church, 28. At his original conviction he chose lethal injection, but changed his mind and opted for the firing squad in 1994. Even though the state did away with the firing squad in 2004, Shurtleff says Archuleta made his choice before the law changed, so it will stand.

“The courts have held that the method of execution is the choice, if there is a choice … of the condemned person,” Shurtleff said. Archuleta can change his mind and say he no longer wants the firing squad, but if he insists on the firing squad, Shurtleff says the state won’t oppose it and that’s how he’d be executed.

There are four other death row inmates who opted for the firing squad before the law changed. The firing squad is comprised of five volunteer, POST-certified officers. Each carries a .30-caliber rifle. Four of the rifles are loaded with live rounds, the other with a blank. It gives shooters a way to rationalize and cope with the assignment. Their identities are kept anonymous — partly for their privacy, and also for their protection....

Convicted killer Ronnie Lee Gardner was the last person executed in Utah by firing squad. Gardner had been on Utah's death row since October 1985 and was executed on June 18, 2010. He was the third person executed by firing squad in Utah — or anywhere else in the U.S. — since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

February 10, 2012 at 09:31 AM | Permalink


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This case is getting a lot of media attention because of the firing squad selection. This inmate hasn't been to federal court yet so I seriously doubt this is going to be carried out.

Posted by: DaveP | Feb 10, 2012 5:09:36 PM

Hmm I would probably also chose this one, if I had to chose between this and for example electric chair...

Posted by: Keanan | Feb 11, 2012 8:08:50 AM


Posted by: NRA!! | Feb 11, 2012 2:04:20 PM

Keanan ... what about firing squad v. lethal injection?

As compared to the electric chair, it is unclear what is worse, including if one looks at studies on the matter.

Posted by: Joe | Feb 11, 2012 9:03:28 PM

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