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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March, 2004, 12:15 GMT
Utah bans firing-squad executions
Gary Gilmore
Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad in Utah in 1977
The US state of Utah has scrapped the use of firing squads to execute criminals sentenced to death.

Supporters of the ban say it will deny convicts the right to opt for a dramatic death in a storm of gunfire.

The state's marksmen have carried out a number of high-profile executions - including that of killer Gary Gilmour in 1977.

Idaho and Oklahoma retain the firing squad on their books but have not used it in modern times.

Gilmour's death drew attention because he was the first man to be executed in the US after a 10-year moratorium on capital punishment.

The last person to die by firing squad in the US was John Albert Taylor, executed in Utah in 1996.

Blank bullets

The US-based Death Penalty Information Center says Utah's firing squad teams typically consisted of five law-enforcement officers.

The inmate would be strapped to a chair and have a white cardboard target placed on his chest.

One of the five marksmen was given blanks as a way of disguising exactly who fired the lethal bullets.

With the passage of Utah's new law, lethal injection becomes the sole means of execution for the state's death-row inmates.

But Utah says it will make allowance for four death row inmates who have already chosen to die by firing squad.

Utah recruits firing squad
30 May 03  |  Americas
Executions out of the ordinary
11 Jun 01  |  Americas
Death row man executed
23 Jun 00  |  Americas


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