1939: Eugen Weidmann, the last public beheading in France 1312: Piers Gaveston

2010: Ronnie Lee Gardner, by musketry

June 18th, 2010 Headsman

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.

He’d spent a lifetime in the clutches of various state institutions, and shot a lawyer dead in an audacious attempt to break out of a Salt Lake City courthouse while shackled.

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.

But Gardner did volunteer, if he had to die, to die that headline-grabbing, reminiscent-of-Gary-Gilmore death at the business end of an anonymous five-man team of marksmen.

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.

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Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Milestones,Murder,Ripped from the Headlines,Shot,USA,Utah

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5 thoughts on “2010: Ronnie Lee Gardner, by musketry”

  1. KYGB says:

    Quite apropos.

    After all, Ronnie Lee was executedtoday.

  2. Kevin M. Sullivan says:

    Too bad Mr. Gardner couldn’t have left us a little sooner. Oh well.

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