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Judge Denies Death Row Inmate's Appeal

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A federal judge has denied the appeal of Ronnie Lee Gardner, who was convicted of murder in the death of an attorney during Gardner's attempted courthouse escape in 1985.

Gardner appealed the capital murder conviction, claiming his trial and appeal lawyers were ineffective.

On Thursday U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell ruled there is "overwhelming evidence" that Gardner intended to shoot attorney Michael Burdell.

Gardner tried to escape when he was brought to court for a hearing on charges in the 1984 robbery and fatal shooting of Melvyn John Otterstrom at a Salt Lake City bar. Gardner's girlfriend slipped him the gun and he wounded a bailiff and shot Burdell twice before being captured on the courthouse lawn.

Gardner, now 46, was sentenced to death for killing Burdell and five years to life for killing Otterstrom.

His attorney plans to appeal Campbell's ruling to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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