Thursday, January 17, 2013

January 17: Gary Gilmore

On this date in History .... 1977:

Gary Gilmore is executed by firing squad, becoming the first person to be executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. 

In 1972, the Supreme Court had ruled the death penalty was in violation of the 8th Amendment as “cruel and unusual punishment”, but overturned itself in 1976 when 66% of the public supported it. However, the Court added that states had to create specific guidelines for imposing death penalties.

Career criminal Gilmore was found guilty for the double murder of an elderly couple when they wouldn’t loan him their car. Much to Gilmore’s irritation, the ACLU kept intervening to get him stays of execution that Gilmore did not want. 

At the time, Utah had two methods: firing squad and hanging.  Gilmore chose his method of execution, saying, “I prefer to be shot.” As he faced the Utah volunteer firing squad, his last words were “Let’s do this.”


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