Whether it's by firing squad or lethal injection, Utah officials can be ready to execute child killer Arthur Gary Bishop in a matter of weeks if necessary, Corrections Director Gary DeLand says.
"We figure we could probably be geared up in three weeks if we had to," DeLand said. "Obviously, whatever amount of time they give you to do it, you can do it."DeLand was reacting to the news that Bishop, 38, convicted in 1984 of killing five young boys, could be executed in the first part of June. The Utah Supreme Court on Monday dissolved Bishop's stay of execution and appointed a new attorney who will assist the murderer as he prepares to pay for the crimes he committed.
Third District Judge Frank G. Noel has tentatively scheduled a 9 a.m. Friday hearing to renew Bishop's death warrant. By law, the execution date must be between 30 and 60 days after the hearing, but prosecutors and Bishop's new attorney agree the sooner the better.
DeLand said last August's execution of Hi Fi Shop killer Pierre Dale Selby will provide the blueprint for Bishop's execution as well. He said corrections officials wrote a 300-page operations manual based on the Selby execution, and he said that manual will be followed with some minor changes.
If Bishop decides to die by lethal injection one of two options he will be given Friday DeLand said officials at the Utah State Prison will reassemble the same room where Selby was put to death. There, Bishop would be strapped to a gurney and intravenous tubes would be implanted in his arm. With the signal from the warden, an executioner would release the lethal chemicals that would end his life.
DeLand said he also anticipates using the same executioner a person whose name was never disclosed but who must have had some medical expertise in order to carry out the procedure.
Deland said officials are also prepared to execute Bishop by firing squad if necessary.
"If, for religious reasons, he decided he needed blood atonement, then he might want to have a firing squad," DeLand said. "And we can accommodate that."
DeLand said, however, there will be some changes in procedure. He said undercover agents stationed at demonstrations or rallies will receive explicit instructions not to talk with reporters. Corrections officials found themselves on the defensive in the weeks following Selby's execution when it was learned that undercover agents had allowed themselves to be interviewed as though they were merely participants in the rallies.
"We'll tell them to just walk away if they're approached by reporters," DeLand said.
Additionally, DeLand said the roadblocks around the prison may be changed somewhat to avoid impeding regular traffic.
But overall, he said the Selby execution was, from the law-enforcement point of view, a success, and he doesn't anticipate any major deviations.
"Our internal audit of the procedures was very positive," DeLand said. "We're focusing on the few things we may be able to do better, but overall it went very well."