Death Penalty

Utah AG Tweets Updates on Firing Squad Execution of Man Who Killed Lawyer

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Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff was thinking about the victims before the firing-squad execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner.

Shurtleff expressed his thoughts on Twitter, according to stories by BBC News and the Telegraph.Co.UK. Gardner, convicted of killing a lawyer and wounding a bailiff in a courthouse escape attempt, was executed Friday just after midnight, the New York Times reports.

Shurtleff’s first Tweet on the execution read: “A solemn day. Barring a stay by Sup Ct, & with my final nod, Utah will use most extreme power & execute a killer. Mourn his victims. Justice.” Later, he tweeted: “I just gave the go ahead to Corrections Director to proceed with Gardner’s execution. May God grant him the mercy he denied his victims.”

Shurtleff then announced he would have additional comments in a press conference that would be streamed live online and posted a link.

Gardner’s lawyers had tried to have his sentence commuted based partly on statements by friends and family of the lawyer he killed, Michael Burdell. They had said Burdell was a pacifist who opposed the death penalty and did mostly pro bono work. He grew vegetables for the poor and lived like a monk, according to one friend. Burdell and his fiancée were members of the religious movement Summum, which opposes capital punishment.

The lawyers also filed appeals with Utah’s governor, a federal appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

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