Although execution by lethal injection is under intense scrutiny, five convicted murderers on Utah's death row await that capital penalty. However, another four inmates still facing the death penalty in Utah have chosen a formerly available alternative death by firing squad.
"We've never had a problem with lethal injection executions," Jack Ford, Utah Department of Corrections spokesman, said Friday after the method was suspended in both Florida and California.
Four of the six executions performed in Utah in the past 30 years were done by lethal injection, which is accomplished with a saline intravenous infusion followed by a sedative and two forms of lethal drugs. The latest execution by lethal injection in Utah was performed in 1999 on Joseph Parsons, who was convicted of murdering a man in Iron County in 1987.
Lethal injection is the only form of the death penalty sanctioned for those now convicted of capital crimes in Utah, though the state previously allowed execution by firing squad and gave the condemned the option of choosing it. The firing squad invariably sparked national and international controversy. Lethal injection, however, has never been questioned in Utah, Ford said.
Although death by firing squad is no longer an option, four death-row inmates chose it before Utah law changed several years ago.
"The only conversation we've had was to do away with the firing squad because it generates so much media attention," Ford said.
The nine men on Utah's death row are:
Ronnie Lee Gardner: Sentenced in November 1985 to die for the shooting death of an attorney during an escape attempt in Salt Lake City; a court bailiff was also critically wounded.
Ralph Leroy Menzies: Sentenced Nov. 18, 1988, for the kidnapping and strangulation of a Kearns woman in 1986. He has selected death by firing squad.
Douglas Stewart Carter: Convicted of stabbing the aunt of a former Provo police chief multiple times and shooting her in the head during a robbery on Feb. 27, 1985. He was sentenced Dec. 27, 1985.
Michael Anthony Archuleta: Condemned Dec. 21, 1989, for raping and torturing to death a gay Southern Utah University student on Nov. 22, 1988.
Von Lester Taylor: Sentenced May 24, 1991, to die for breaking into a cabin in Oakley, Summit County, in December 1990 and killing a woman and her mother. The woman's husband was seriously wounded. Taylor then kidnapped the couple's two daughters before setting the cabin on fire and fleeing.
Doug Lovell: Sentenced Aug. 18, 1993, in Ogden, for killing a South Ogden woman in 1985 to keep her from testifying against him at a trial on charges that he raped her.
Ron Lafferty: Sentenced to die for the murders of his brother's wife and her 15-month-old daughter in 1984. His original sentence was overturned, but he again received the death sentence on April 10, 1996, and has chosen to die by firing squad.
Troy Michael Kell: Sentenced on June 26, 1996, he was a white separatist and an inmate in Utah's Gunnison prison when he stabbed a black inmate 67 times with a crude knife on July 6, 1994. He has chosen to die by firing squad. Taberon Dave Honie: Sentenced May 20 to die for sexually assaulting and slashing the throat in the murder of his ex-girlfriend's mother July 9, 1998, in Cedar City. He wants to die by firing squad.