Sometime after midnight Friday, Ronnie Lee Gardner is to be strapped into a chair in the execution chamber at the state prison in Draper, Utah. A black hood is to be slipped over the bald head of the 49-year-old convicted killer, if he wishes. A small circular target will be pinned over his heart.
Utah death row inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner may die in old-fashioned execution.
After a reprieve was denied by Gov. Gary Herbert late Thursday, Gardner is all but guaranteed to become the third person to die before a firing squad in Utah or anywhere else in the nation since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
It has been 14 years since rifles last were fired in a state execution.
"Upon careful review, there is nothing in the materials provided this morning that has not already been considered and decided by the Board of Pardons and Parole or numerous courts," Herbert said in a written statement released through his office.
Utah is the last state that still conducts executions by firing squad.
The simple mechanics of an old fashioned execution by firing squad are cold blooded, efficient and have just a hint of consideration for the person living his last moments.
In his final hours, a fasting Gardner was seen reading a book called "Divine Justice" by David Baldacci and watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He had been visited by family members, his attorney and a clergyman. The prison was locked down at 4 p.m. MT.
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