Image via WikipediaOn June 18, Ronnie Lee Gardner will be hooded, tethered to a chair, and a bullseye target placed over his heart. Five sharpshooters will aim at the target with .30 caliber rifles, four of which carry live rounds, and fire.
If Gardner, who faces execution for murdering attorney Michael Burdell during a courthouse escape attempt on April 2, 1985, in the course of which he also wounded bailiff Nick Kirk, feels remorse toward the victim's loved ones or has any thoughts about his incarceration or previous crimes, he will take them to his grave. That's because Utah corrections officials, deviating from past practices, will not permit news media interviews of Gardner, according to The Salt Lake Tribune (www.sltrib.com).
Utah law empowers prison officials to restrict communications with an inmate provided a "reasonable institutional policy" underlies the decision limiting access. Corrections officials contend that permitting media interviews would unduly focus attention on the criminal while ignoring innocent victims of his crime.
Opponents of the move argue that forbidding media interviews violates Gardner's First Amendment rights. At the time of his failed escape attempt, Gardner was appearing in court on 1984 charges of robbery and murder at a Salt Lake City tavern.