National

Apr 23, 2010 9:17 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Condemned Utah killer could face firing squad

A condemned killer appears headed for a date with death in Utah that could see him sit before a firing squad and re-ignite protests over an antiquated, Old West-style of justice.

At a hearing Friday in Salt Lake City, a judge will consider whether to sign a warrant of execution for Ronnie Lee Gardner, who killed a man during a failed escape 25 years ago.

Under state law, the 49-year-old Gardner would be allowed to decide whether he would be killed by lethal injection or be shot by a five-man team of executioners firing from a set of matched rifles.

Of the 35 states with the death penalty on the books, Utah is the only one to use the firing squad as a method of execution since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

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