UTAH, SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is scheduled to execute a convicted killer by firing squad on June 18, renewing a debate over what critics see as an antiquated, Old West-style of justice.
State court Judge Robin Reese signed the warrant on Friday morning for Ronnie Lee Gardner, who killed a man in a failed escape 25 years ago.
Under state law, Ronnie Lee Gardner, 49, was given the choice of being killed by lethal injection or shot by a 5-man team of executioners firing from a set of matched rifles, a rarely used relic that harkens back to Utah’s territorial history.
After Reese said Gardner’s avenues for appeal are exhausted and that he would sign the warrant, Ronnie Lee Gardner told the judge: “I would like the firing squad, please.”
Of the 35 states with the death penalty on the books, Utah is the only one to use the firing squad as a method of execution since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in the year 1976.