Thursday, June 17, 2010

Utah counts down to firing squad execution

Barring a last-minute stay of execution, five anonymous marksmen bearing rifles will take their places late on Thursday in a prison room to carry out the request of death-row inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner: execution by firing squad.

Gardner won't see the law enforcement officers who have volunteered to carry out the death sentence. He will be bathed in light, they will be hidden in darkness some 20 feet away, probably behind a screen containing narrow slots for the guns.
A target will be placed over his heart, a hood over his head. And the men, who are likely to have practised together for accuracy, will respond to the command: "Ready, aim..."
None, however, will ever be certain whether they fired a lethal shot. One gun will have been loaded with a dummy - probably wax - bullet, which is said to deliver the same recoil as a live round.
Gardner, 49, was sentenced to death in 1985, after fatally shooting lawyer Michael Burdell and severely wounding a bailiff Nick Kirk in an escape attempt from court. At the time, he was facing a murder charge in the case of the shooting of bartender Melvyn Otterstrom. READ MORE

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