UTAH STATE PRISON — Condemned killer Ronnie Lee Gardner now will not do any media interviews prior to his anticipated execution, the Utah Department of Corrections says.
The department previously had said Gardner would not be available for interviews, a decision based, in part, on Gardner's stated desire not to speak to the press, said prison spokesman Steve Gehrke. Other considerations included security and a desire to avoid glorifying Gardner's crimes and further harming his victims.
Gardner earlier Wednesday expressed his desire to appear on CNN's "Larry King Live" to discuss creating an organic farm to help troubled youths. Corrections executive director Tom Patterson agreed to review the request, which included contacting King's producers.
Producers for the show expressed interest for a telephone conversation with Gardner on Wednesday evening. However, upon full review and considering all pending security concerns, the corrections department reaffirmed its decision not to allow any interviews, to ensure the safety and security of the prison facility, Gehrke said.
Prison officials had agreed to allow an interview after Salt Lake attorney Jeff Hunt filed a request on behalf of the Deseret News arguing that prohibiting interviews was a violation of Gardner's First Amendment rights.
Gardner told the Deseret News he wanted to be interviewed by the newspaper, but then told Patterson on Wednesday that he wanted to be on King's TV program.
On Tuesday, Gardner enjoyed his requested last meal — steak, lobster tail, apple pie, vanilla ice cream and 7-Up. Contrary to some reports, however, his friends and family said he is not fasting for the remaining hours to his scheduled execution at midnight Thursday night/Friday morning.
A friend of Gardner who spoke with the inmate Wednesday told the Deseret News that he just wanted to enjoy his preferred last meal without the stress that will likely accompany Thursday's events leading up to the execution.
— Amy Donaldson
Editor's note: The Deseret News will be tweeting information from the Utah State Prison before and after the execution. Go to Twitter.com and follow @DNewsCrimeTeam.