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Ronnie Lee Gardner executed by firing squad

 |  Posted Jun 18th, 2010 @ 5:17pm

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Witness account from KSL TV News' Sandra Yi

Ronnie Lee Gardner had little to say, moments before a 5-man firing squad took his life at 12:17 this morning. The warden asked if he wanted to make a final statement, to which Gardner replied, "I do not. No."

When the curtain opened in the media witness room, Gardner was strapped to a metal chair. His head was restrained. He had a strap around his forehead, down his sides, around his chest, waist and both ankles.

I could see his eyes moving and looking around the room. From where I was standing, I had a view of Gardner's left side.

The warden put a hood over Gardner's head.

Gardner, who was wearing a dark-blue jumpsuit, had a target pinned across his heart. I could see him moving his fingers and then clenching his fists.

When the warden left the room, we expected to hear a cadence. We did not hear any commands before hearing two loud gunshots.

After the shooting, Gardner's fists remained clenched. Then he moved his arm a couple of times, making us wonder if he was still alive. I also saw Gardner rub his thumb and forefinger together. We could also see what appeared to be blood pooling around his waist.

After a couple of minutes, the medical examiner walked into the chamber, checked his pulse and pupils. He lifted the hood enough so that I could see Gardner's head was tilted back and slightly to the right. His mouth was open.

After Gardner's body was removed, prison officials allowed us to go into the chamber, and it strongly smelled of bleach. There were four bullet holes in the wood panel behind the chair.

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