18 Jun 2010

Rare US firing-squad execution

9:49 pm on 18 June 2010

A convicted murderer in the American state of Utah has been executed by firing squad - a form of justice last used in the United States 14 years ago.

Ronnie Lee Gardner, who had spent 25 years on death row, died at the hands of five anonymous shooters after a final appeal was rejected.

Gardner, 49, chose the firing squad before Utah banned the method in 2004. He had been convicted in 1985 of fatally shooting a lawyer during an attempt to escape from a court where he was facing an earlier murder charge.

The execution was carried out at a prison in Draper, a suburb of Salt Lake City. Four of the squad's rifles were loaded with live bullets but a fifth carried a blank, so that none of the men would have known with certainty that he had fired a lethal round.

Official go-ahead given via Twitter

Utah Attorney-General Mark Shurtleff used the Twitter micro-blogging site to say he had given the go-ahead for execution.

"May God grant him the mercy he denied his victims," Mr Shurtleff tweeted.

Gardner spent his last 48 hours fasting and his final day watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy and meeting lawyers and clergymen.