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SALT LAKE CITY -- Death penalty opponents are planning to protest in the hours before a man faces the firing squad.
Religious and secular groups that form Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty say they'll join together Thursday night to express opposition to the execution of convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner.
"I think we don't prefer to be associated with Iran, China, and Saudi Arabia and the other countries who use the death penalty as we have used it," says Nancy Appleby, chairwoman of the Utah Episcopal Diocese Peace and Justice Commission. She also says she's opposed to the death penalty for religious reasons. "What we are called upon to do as Christians, I don't think that includes having the state kill people in our name."
Appleby calls the death penalty "barbaric." She'll be joined by others who share her view at a prayer service to be held Thursday night from 5:30 to 6:30 at St. Mark's Cathedral in Salt Lake. She says prayers will be offered on behalf of everyone affected by the execution, including the victims' family members and the law enforcement staff taking part in the process.
Following the service a protest will be held on the south steps of the state capitol beginning at 9 p.m.
Appleby says Gardner did horrible things, but she would prefer he be sentenced to life without parole rather than another life being lost.