Ronnie Lee Gardner's life ends with hardly a word
Witnesses not certain he died immediately
The target on Gardner had three holes after he was shot — a large one near the bull's-eye and two smaller ones underneath. No blood came out of his chest. The only sign of what appeared to be blood was a small pool that collected after a minute near his lap.
When the curtains to the witnesses' rooms were closed again, corrections officials removed Gardner's body and cleaned the area before allowing media members inside.
A strong smell of bleach still filled the room when media witnesses were allowed to tour the area. In the wood paneling behind the execution chair were holes from the four bullets that had apparently traveled through Gardner's body. Only 4 inches separated all the holes.
Reaction from the nine media witnesses and three witnesses from family members of Gardner's victims was mixed.
"Everybody said it would be gruesome and it would affect me," said Jamie Stewart, the 27-year-old granddaughter of Salt Lake County sheriff's bailiff Nick Kirk. "But it wasn't bad whatsoever. You didn't see hardly any blood. He was dressed all in black. I just feel like justice has finally been served. He deserved it."
Kirk was shot and wounded during Gardner's escape attempt from the old Salt Lake courthouse in 1985.
At Gardner's request, no members of his family witnessed the execution.
Jennifer Dobner, from The Associated Press, said Gardner's execution was not like the kind one would typically find in the movies.
"It was fast. It was almost clinical and very sanitary," she said.
KUTV reporter Fields Mosely, however, found the execution to be slightly worse than he anticipated.
"I found it very violent. … It was exactly what I expected and a little bit worse. The loudness of the guns shocked me. Even though I grew up with a Winchester 30-30 in my home and shot it many times. … It was violent, and I didn't find it to be clinical at all."
"I think Ronnie Lee Gardner's last words will probably stick with me, even if they were very simple," commented Fox 13 reporter Ben Winslow.
Contributing: Aaron Falk, Emiley Morgan
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