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Ronnie Lee Gardner executed by firing squad in Utah

Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed shortly after midnight Friday. A firing squad killed the death row inmate in Utah.

Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed Friday morning in Utah. In this photo, Rowan Eyzaguirre (from left), Cedar Gonzalez, and Anthony Barnes hold candles to protest against Ronnie Lee Gardner's Death Penalty at the Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty rally at the Utah State Capital in Salt Lake City, Utah, Friday, June 17, 2010.

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A death row inmate who had used a gun to fatally shoot two men suffered the same fate Friday morning as he was executed by a team of marksmen — the first time Utah used the firing squad to carry out a death sentence in 14 years.

A barrage of bullets tore into Ronnie Lee's Gardner's chest where a target was pinned over his heart.

He was the third man to die by firing squad since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

Unlike Gary Gilmore, who famously uttered the last words "Let's do it" on Jan. 17, 1977, Gardner could muster few words before a a black hood was fastened over his head. Asked if he had anything to say during the two minutes afforded him, Gardner said simply "I do not, no."

The five executioners, certified police officers who volunteered for the task and remain anonymous, stood about 25 feet away, behind a wall cut with a gunport, and were armed with matching .30-caliber Winchester rifles. One was loaded with a blank so no one knows who fired the fatal shot. Sandbags stacked behind Gardner's chair kept the bullets from ricocheting around the cinderblock room.

Utah Department of Corrections Director Thomas Patterson said the countdown cadence went "5-4-3..." with the shooters starting to fire at the count of 2.

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