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utah to use firing squad for execution

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Any thoughts on this one?

Utah Readies Two Firing-Squad Executions


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The only state that dispatches condemned inmates by firing squad is assembling gunmen for back-to-back executions next month.

The nation's last execution by firing squad was in 1996.

Exercising their right under Utah law, a serial killer Roberto Arguelles and Troy Michael Kell, a white supremacist who stabbed a fellow inmate to death, have chosen the firing squad over lethal injection and are set to die at 12:01 a.m. on June 27 and 28, respectively.

However, Kell filed an appeal last week that will probably halt his execution

Of the 850 inmates put to death in the United States since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, two have died by firing squad, both in Utah: Gary Gilmore in 1977 became the first person executed in the United States after the court's ruling, and John Albert Taylor was put to death 19 years later.

Since 1977, Utah has executed four other killers, all by injection.

Anti-death penalty forces are protesting, arguing that the firing squad amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. And the prison is bracing for large crowds of protesters.

Utah's use of firing squads predates statehood in 1896 and is a remnant of the early Mormon belief that bloodshed is a required punishment for taking a life, said Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which says it is neutral about the death penalty but critical of its application.

``Certainly no other state has continued its use or allowed people to choose it. It's the one thing that stands out,'' Dieter said. ``It's part of the history, so there's a reluctance to change.''

The notion that murder must be atoned for in blood has never been part of official church doctrine, and the Mormon church has not taken a formal position on execution methods, said Robert Millet, Brigham Young University religion professor.

The Utah Corrections Department is recruiting law enforcement officers for two five-person firing squads, asking the police departments in the communities where the crimes were committed to nominate volunteers.

The officers' identities will not be released, and participants will be barred from talking publicly about the experience.

A hood will be put over the condemned man's head and a target will be pinned over his heart. The executioners will fire simultaneously from gun portals in a separate room at the inmate, seated in a chair about 30 feet away.

One of the five rifles will contain a blank so that no one will know who fired the fatal shots.

In 1992, Arguelles abducted and strangled Margo Bond, a janitor at a junior high school where he had been hunting for teenage victims. He also kidnapped, sexually assaulted and killed two girls, ages 13 and 15, and stabbed a 16-year-old girl more than 40 times. He was sentenced to death in 1997. Arguelles has repeatedly said he wants to die.

Kell was convicted in 1996 of killing a black man, Lonnie Blackmon, at the Utah State Prison. Kell, serving time for a previous murder, stabbed Blackmon 67 times with a homemade knife in 1994. A prison videotape shows Kell shouting, ``White power!'' during the attack.

Utah has 11 men on death row. Besides Arguelles and Kell, two other inmates have chosen to die by firing squad.

On the Net:


05/22/03 15:46

© Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained In this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
post #2 of 12
Honestly? It's probably the quickest and easiest way to die. Cruel and unusual it is not. It is lightning fast, and at 30 yards he wouldn't even have time to flinch.

The only people is it cruel to is the officers who pull the trigger. Somehow it seems different than just pushing a button in a different room (they generally have that done by multiple people as well, with only one of the buttons actually administering the gas/injection/electricity so none of them knows for sure that they are the one who killed the condemned).
post #3 of 12
From what I read there, being killed by a firing squad was his choice... no one is making him choose that over lethal injection. What's the deal? If he's sentenced to death and it's legal in that state, along with the fact he gets a choice in the matter on how he dies... I don't see the problem.
post #4 of 12
Its obvious that the death penalty is warranted, in these cases and the jerks have a choice. What's the problem? Personally, I'd hand a rifle, to those little girls' fathers.
post #5 of 12
Bullets are cheaper than drugs or firing up the electric chair. If it were my kid, i would want to shoot him myself!
I don't know if they still do this, but when the firing squad was regularly used, the men on the squad would draw from a pool of bullets, some of which were blanks, so they didn't know which one actually killed the person.
post #6 of 12
It will be a quicker and less painful death, than their victims got.
post #7 of 12
I agree, and I bet those little girls fathers would like to pull the trigger.
post #8 of 12
For the record - we just went over this in the academy: when using a firing squad for capital punishment, ONE of the bullets is a blank, and not one of the officers knows which one has it. That way they can ALL assume that they were NOT the person that killed the convicted criminal. (Pretty much like krazy kat2 already mentioned.)
post #9 of 12
Death is too easy for such men as these. I'd rather see them sentenced to a life of hard labor for the state in vile and disgusting jobs that no one else wants. That way they could pay for their own keep and whatever is left over could be given to the families of their victims. This just might be a deterrent to other would be murderers too.
post #10 of 12
I'd rather have a firing squad than the gas chamber any day. I've also heard the electric chair has it's own problems. I think the only method I'd choose, though, would be lethal injection.

I don't see what the big deal is--UT's used firing squad before. What about when they used to do hangings and they'd screw up on the rope length and drop and the person would slowly suffocate to death.
post #11 of 12
The Utah firing squad was last used in 1972, for murderer Gary Gilmore. I think it and hanging are too quick and easy for child murdering scumbags. Do something painful and terrifying, like they did!
post #12 of 12
AZ switched from hanging to the gas chamber, in the 1930s. The last person hanged was a woman and they miscalculated the weight and the counterbalance - she was decapitated. Back in the early 90s, we voted to used lethal injection. Anyone convicted, before that law has the choice of gas or injection. Most of them have been going for the injection.

A pair of brothers opted for gas, a couple of years ago. They were using the issue for a last-ditch appeal. Karl went to the gas chamber and, one week later, Walter opted for the needle. Either way, we're beter of rid of them.
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