Ronnie Lee Gardner’s Brother Speaks Out About Firing Squads
SALT LAKE CITY, March 17, 2015 (Gephardt Daily) – The brother of Ronnie Lee Gardner today spoke out about the effects of execution on the family. This came at a rally where death penalty opponents urged Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to veto a bill allowing execution by firing squad if the state cannot obtain lethal injection drugs.
Ralph Dellapiana of Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty delivered a petition and a letter to Herbert’s office Tuesday. Herbert, a Republican, has declined to say if he will sign the proposal but says it could offer Utah a backup if it cannot get execution drugs.
Utah lawmakers passed the bill last week as states struggle to obtain lethal injection drugs amid a nationwide shortage. House Bill 11 would make Utah the only state in the nation to have a firing squad option for the death penalty. Proponents say it’s a quick and effective way to kill a prisoner.
Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by a firing squad by the state of Utah in 2010. Gardner’s case spent nearly 25 years in the court system.
His brother Randy said: “The state of Utah executed my little brother, Ronnie Lee Gardner. In 2004 they eliminated the firing squad because it was cruel and unusual, now in 2015 they are trying to bring the firing squad back. A few months after my brother was executed his daughter tried committing suicide, she took enough pills to kill a horse, I don’t know how she survived.
“I called an organization called Journey of Hope, from Violence to Healing, it’s a group led by murder victims’ family members. We go across the United States and the world and we tell our stories. I believe I have post traumatic stress disorder, I haven’t been able to function, I have nightmares all the time, if I wasn’t out here speaking out about it I don’t know what I would be doing. Speaking out helps me with the fact that they executed my brother, I think about it every day. It never goes away.
“I understand the people who my brother took their lives, they probably feel the same way. I feel bad for them, I never condoned what my brother did, but on the other side, they shouldn’t condone the same thing. The way I put it is, ‘Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing is wrong?’ Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
People can get involved with Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty or Journeyofhope.org. “We got 500 signatures from Utah, 6,000 signatures from around the United States and around the world. That petition’s only been out for three days,” Randy said.