Main | Saturday, April 24, 2010

Gary Gilmore's Eyes

A Utah judge has agreed to a prisoner's request that he be executed by firing squad. Two other prisoners have been executed by firing squad since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Both executions took place in Utah.
Ronnie Lee Gardner, 49, was given the choice of being killed by lethal injection or shot by a five-man team of executioners firing from a set of matched rifles – a rarely used method of execution that harkens back to Utah's territorial history. "I would like the firing squad, please," Gardner told state court Judge Robin Reese after hearing his avenues for appeal appear to be exhausted. Gardner, 49, was sentenced to death for killing an attorney 25 years ago during a failed escape attempt and shootout. Defense attorney Andrew Parnes said he plans to quickly seek a stay of execution and appeal Reese's ruling to the Utah Supreme Court.
When the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty to be constitutional in 1976, the first prisoner to be be executed was two-time murderer Gary Gilmore. His 1977 execution by a Utah firing squad became the subject of Norman Mailer's Pulitzer-winning The Executioner's Song. British punk band The Adverts had a top ten hit later that year with Gary Gilmore's Eyes, which was written from the viewpoint of a man who realizes that his transplanted eyes had been donated by Gary Gilmore.

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