A few hours ago as of this writing, the U.S. state of Utah put Ronnie Lee Gardner to death by firing squad, a method so vintage that its constitutionality was challenged in the 19th century.
That happened way back in 1985.
A quarter-century later — full half a lifetime, for Ronnie Lee Gardner — the clock finally ran out on the resulting legal process.
Gardner fought the execution to the very end, his plea for executive clemency (backed by some of the jurors who doomed him, and by some relatives of the murder victim himself who claim that Michael Burdell opposed the death penalty) falling on predictably deaf ears just a few days ago.
With the execution of that procedure minutes after midnight today, Gardner became the first U.S. prisoner executed by firing squad since John Albert Taylor in 1996. He might ultimately be the last ever … though a few inmates still residing on Utah’s death row might yet supplant him.