The state of Utah executed Ronnie Lee Gardner last night. Five anonymous shooters with rifles, one of whom had a blank charge, the others with live rounds. Strapped him to a chair frame, hooded him, put a small white target over his heart. Blam.
It was his choice. Utah did away with the option -- dance with bullets or ride the needle -- but Gardner was sentenced to die before they did, and that was his pick. He and his lawyers fought it for years, but his time finally ran out.
He was a bad guy, a career-criminal. He attempted escape, then did escape from prison, severely battering a guard, and during the course of an armed robbery following his escape, he shot and killed a bartender. A girlfriend managed to get a gun to him during his trial and he killed an attorney during his escape, shot a baliff, who survived, and took hostages.
In prison after his murder conviction, he stabbed a fellow inmate, and at one point, broke the barrier between himself and his girlfriend in the visiting area, barricaded the door and had sex with his girlfriend while the other prisoners watched and cheered. There is some question as to whether or not she was a willing participant.
You have to look a bit to find this stuff -- most of the accounts gloss over what a bad man he truly was and focus on the execution.
This wasn't a guy who made a mistake and then repented and changed his ways. He was a lethal danger right until the end.
Live by the gun, die by the gun.