This chap seems like a very good example of just the sort of scumbag who clearly deserved his fate, heck he was even a supporter of capital punishment.
The firing squad was carried out in a specially designed execution chamber inside Utah State prison, a simple room measuring 20 feet by 24 feet. Gardner was taken into the chamber shortly after midnight, having spent his final hours sleeping, watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films and reading the thriller Divine Justice.
Once the execution process got under way, he was strapped to a black chair with a metal tray placed beneath it to collect his blood, had a hood placed over his head, and a white circular target pinned to his chest to mark his heart – the precise location of which had been identified early in the night by aa prison doctor.
Then five local law-enforcement officers, chosen for their skills as marksmen and kept anonymous by law to minimise risk of reprisals, were ushered into the chamber and lined up behind a brick wall at the other end of the room about 25 feet away. They were handed .30-calibre rifles, the muzzles of which they inserted through a gap in the wall to point at the condemned man.
Four of the rifles were loaded with a single live bullet. The fifth contained an “ineffective” round – which unlike a blank gives the same recoil as a live round; that way none of the five executioners can know whether they delivered the fatal shot, thus lessening their psychological burden.
Gardner never disputed his guilt or sought to minimise the terrible acts he had committed. In 1980 he was convicted of robbery and sent to Utah State prison, the very same institution where 30 years later his life would end.
In 1984 he escaped, and on 9 October, high on cocaine, he shot and killed a barman, Melvyn Otterstrom, at Salt Lake City’s Cheers Tavern.
On trial for that murder, he made another break-out attempt on 2 April 1985, arranging for a gun to be slipped to him by a female accomplice as he was being brought to Salt Lake City’s central courthouse. In the melee, he shot a lawyer called Michael Burdell in the right eye. Burdell died in hospital 45 minutes later.
Burdell’s family has consistently opposed the execution of his murderer. His niece, Donna Taylor, speaking to the Guardian outside the prison, said her uncle had always been totally against the death penalty. “He just didn’t like the idea of killing anybody. He wouldn’t have wanted this.”
As to the method of his execution, well done properly it can be very quick and perhaps more than another method it allows the men with guns to imagine that they did not in fact fire a fatal shot.
One less scumbag drawing breath is a good result for the world.