Firing Squad Execution Looms for Convicted Utah Killer Ronnie Lee Gardner

Ronnie Lee Gardner (Mug Shot)
(AP Photo/Francisco Kjolseth, Pool)
Ronnie Lee Gardner (AP Photo/Francisco Kjolseth, Pool)

SALT LAKE CITY (CBS/AP) With the five-man firing squad preparing to take aim, the attorneys for Ronnie Lee Gardner are pleading with the Utah Supreme Court to delay Gardner's execution, and send the convicted killer's case back to the state court for a new sentencing hearing.

Otherwise, Gardner will be executed on June 18.

Defense attorney Andrew Parnes wants a jury to hear about Gardner's troubled youth, which was marred by abuse, addiction, and family altercations.

He believes that his violent past greatly contributed to Gardner's life of crime.

Gardner, 49, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in 1985 for the fatal courthouse shooting of attorney Michael Burdell.

Parnes also claims that his client was dealt an unfair hand at the onset of his trial in 1985 because he lacked adequate funding and legal representation, and therefore, could not develop mitigating evidence in his own defense.

Ultimately, Parnes wants Gardner, who has been on death row for 25 years, to spend the rest of his life in jail rather than be executed. In his eyes, execution for his client at this stage of the game is cruel and unusual punishment.

State attorneys oppose Parnes' and Gardner's attempts to alter his death sentence. They believe that the defendant has exhausted all legitimate grounds for appeal and are raising arguments that have already been tossed out by judges in earlier court proceedings.

When he was first sentenced, Utah death row prisoners were allowed to choose their method of execution and for reasons unknown, Gardner opted to be put to death by firing squad.


May 3, 2010 - Utah Firing Squad Execution: Details Released on Ronnie Lee Gardner's Execution