|Killed by a firing squad just after 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 17, 1977, Gilmore became the first convict to be executed in the United States after a near-decade pause following a Supreme Court ruling. Gilmore, who had asked to be executed, had been convicted of murdering Bennie Bushnell and Max David Jensen, both shot during robberies. |
Asked if he had any last words, Gilmore said, "Let's do it." Gilmore, who had vowed not to flinch before the firing squad, sat placidly, a hood covering his head, as five anonymous gunmen armed with .30-caliber rifles took aim and fired. Four of the rifles were loaded with live ammunition; one held a blank.
Prior to his execution, Gilmore drew attention with two suicide attempts by drug overdose and his pleas for death.
Gilmore's uncle, one of the only people to have close contact with the convict before his death said of the execution, "I would like to say at this time, Gary, my nephew, died like he wanted to die, in dignity. He got his wish to die. He died in dignity. That's all I have to say."
At the time there were 358 other Americans - including four women - on death row throughout the country. Gilmore's death publicly marked the resumption of executions in the United States.