Ronnie Lee Gardner (January 16, 1961 – June 18, 2010) was an American criminal who received the death penalty for shooting a man in the face and killing him during a robbery in 1985, and was executed by a firing squad by the state of Utah in 2010. Gardner's case spent nearly 25 years in the court system, prompting the Utah House of Representatives to introduce legislation to limit the number of appeals in capital cases.
In October 1984, Gardner killed Melvyn John Otterstrom during a robbery in Salt Lake City. While being moved in April 1985 to a court hearing for the homicide, he fatally shot attorney Michael Burdell in an unsuccessful escape attempt. Convicted of two counts of murder, Gardner was sentenced to life imprisonment for the first count and received the death penalty for the second. The state adopted more stringent security measures as a result of the incident at the courthouse. While held at Utah State Prison, Gardner was charged with another capital crime for stabbing an inmate in 1994. However, that charge was thrown out by the Utah Supreme Court because the victim survived.
In a series of appeals, defense attorneys presented mitigating evidence of the troubled upbringing of Gardner, who had spent nearly his entire adult life in incarceration. His request for commutation of his death sentence was denied in 2010 after the families of his victims testified against him. Gardner's legal team took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to intervene.
The execution of Gardner at Utah State Prison became the focus of media attention in June 2010, because it was the first to be carried out by firing squad in the United States in 14 years. Gardner stated that he sought this method of execution because of his Mormon background. On the day before his execution, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement clarifying its position on the issue of blood atonement of individuals...
— Source: Wikipedia
The Salt Lake City Public Library hostage incident occurred on March 5, 1994 in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, when Clifford Lynn Draper held several hostages on the second floor in the former main branch of the Salt Lake City Public Library, which now houses The Leonardo, a culture and arts center.
During a demonstration of a Tibetan sand painting ceremony, Draper leapt up on the service desk in the Fiction section brandishing a M1911 pistol and claiming to have a bomb. He ordered nearby people into a conference room, which was already occupied by a Toastmasters group: librarian Gwen Page, six civilians, and Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Lloyd Prescott, who offered to change places with the last person who entered the conference room. Lt. Prescott was in plain clothes at the time and had his pistol hidden on his person. After Draper and the others entered the room Page began to count hostages, as ordered, and began to have them line up facing the wall while Draper made demands and described his plans. A Toastmaster managed to inconspicuously slip several hostages out a second door in the conference room, inciting a run for more hostages to exit the commons. Page and others chose to stay in the room while Draper threatened but did not shoot...
— Source: Wikipedia