As It Happens

UPDATE | Utah firing squads 'cruel' says brother of last man executed

Randy Gardner cannot forget the sight of his brother's bullet-ridden body. Multiple murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner was the last person executed by firing squad in Utah. Now, state lawmakers have voted to reinstate firing squads, and Gardner is speaking out against the move.
FILE - This June 18, 2010, file photo shows the firing squad execution chamber at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah. Utah's Gov. Gary Herbert will not say if he'll sign a bill to bring back the firing squad but does say the method would give Utah a backup execution method. Herbert's spokesman Marty Carpenter issued a statement about the bill Tuesday in response to questions from reporters. Utah's Senate is set to cast a final vote on the bill this week. It would call for a firing squad if lethal injection drugs cannot be obtained 30 days before an execution. (AP Photo/Trent Nelson, Pool, File) (The Associated Press)

Randy Gardner cannot forget the sight of his brother's bullet-riddled body. Multiple murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner was the last person in Utah executed by firing squad. Now, state lawmakers have voted to reinstate firing squads, a method of execution that Randy Gardner calls "cruel and unusual punishment."

Randy Gardner, of Salt Lake City, the older brother of Ronnie Lee Gardner, the last inmate to be killed by firing squad in Utah in 2010, stands in front of the Utah State Capitol, Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in Salt Lake City. Utah is the only state in the past 40 years to carry out such a death sentence, with three executions by firing squad since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) (The Associated Press)

"I seen him at the mortuary before they cremated him. I wanted to look at his chest to make sure they really had hit him in the heart. So I unzipped the bag and pulled his shirt down and there were four holes over his heart where I could have just reached in and stuck four of my fingers right in him. Pretty disgusting."

'After he was executed, I was able to see the four bullet holes in his chest. That's pretty barbaric if you ask me.'
- Randy Gardner, brother of multiple murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner, the last man executed by firing squad in the state of Utah

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2015, file photo, Clearfield Republican Rep. Paul Ray appears on the house floor at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. Utah, the only state in the past 40 years to carry out a death sentence by firing squad, is poised to bring back the Old West-style executions if the state cannot track down drugs used in lethal injections. The Republican-controlled state Legislature gave final approval to the proposal Tuesday, March 10, 2015, with lawmakers billing it as a backup plan as states struggle to find execution drugs amid a nationwide shortage. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File) (The Associated Press)

"When you tie someone to a chair, put a hood over their head and have five men shoot them from across the room, it's just not something we should be doing. I don't believe in the death penalty in any form whatsoever. They're talking about bringing back the guillotine in some states. It's just getting out of control."

He says two hundred officers volunteered to pull the trigger in 2010. The ones that did, including prison staff, received commemorative coins.

Gardner never condoned his brother's actions. He says he feels terrible for the victims' families. But, he believes executions, including by lethal injection, aren't the answer.

Utah Republican Paul Ray disagrees. He says firing squads offer a quicker, more certain death and therefore more humane death than lethal injections which sometimes go awry. Representative Ray sponsored the bill reinstating firing squads. It won approval from the Utah legislature on Tuesday. Gary Herbert, Utah's Republican Governor has declined to say whether he will sign the bill into law.


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