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When Utah executed Ronnie Lee Gardner by firing squad in June of 2010, no one from his family was inside the state prison to witness his death.
That was by design. Gardner had asked his family not to be there, so instead they gathered in a parking lot across the street from the Draper prison to remember him and wait for word that the punishment had been carried out by five law enforcement officers with a matching set of rifles.
On Tuesday, however, the condemned killer's brother, Randy Gardner, was in the gallery when the Utah Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that would abolish the death penalty.
"I just think the death penalty hurts more than just the victims Ronnie murdered," Randy Gardner said. "It's ruined my family."
SB189 passed with a preliminary vote of 20-9, with only a short explanation from it sponsor, Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, and no debate.
If the bill gets another favorable Senate vote it will advance for consideration by the House.
"I, like many of you, support the death penalty, or least I thought I did," Urquhart said. "I looked at it more closely and realized that the theoretical death penalty doesn't match the reality of the death penalty in this state."
Among the realities that Urquhart said changed his mind: The emotional and financial costs of capital punishment, and the attention the punishment brings to the killers, but not to their victims.
"They become famous, they become rock stars," Urquhart said when explaining SB189. "The families are tortured and they become further victimized."
Randy Gardner, who has been quietly active in the anti-death penalty movement since 2010, agrees and said that if his brother had been sentenced to prison without the possibility of parole his name would have been long forgotten.
Instead, Utah's use of the firing squad catapults the names of condemned killers into international headlines.
"Everybody knows who Ronnie Gardner is," Randy Gardner said.
Under SB189, capital punishment would be eliminated for the crime of first-degree-felony aggravated murder, effective May 10.
The remaining punishments for aggravated murder would be life without the possibility of parole or 25 years to life.
SB189 would not change the course of any capital case already being prosecuted, nor prevent Utah from carrying out the executions of the nine men now on the death row.
On average, it takes nearly 25 years for those on Utah's death row to be executed following conviction and a 2012 study found that costs the state roughly $1.6 million per inmate.
Ronnie Lee Gardner was convicted of capital murder in 1984 for the fatal shooting of Michael Burdell, a Salt Lake City lawyer, during a failed escape attempt from the 3rd District courthouse.
When executed on June 18, 2010, he had been on death row for 25 years.
Some may not appreciate the pain the Gardner family experienced during the quarter century that they waited for the execution. But reliving his brother's crimes just as victim's families do at each stage of his state and federal court appeals was difficult, Randy Gardner said.
"We have to relive it," he said. "And we are victims too, of a premeditated murder by the state."
Randy Gardner also shares Urquhart's fear that sometimes states get it wrong. According to the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, some 156 people have been exonerated from death row since 1973 and researchers estimate that roughly 4 percent of those on death row nationally are believed to be innocent.
Randy Gardner said he opposed to the death penalty long before his brother's crimes and execution. Since then, the post-mortem photographs of Ronnie Lee Gardner's pale and bullet-ridden body have only served to solidify that belief as do his continuing nightmares about the night of the execution.
On Tuesday at the Capitol, Randy Gardner carried those 8-by-10-inch colored images in an envelope. They are, he said, just one more reason to stop the use of capital punishment.
"It's pretty disgusting," Randy Gardner said. "If people look at these pictures and believes it's OK to kill somebody in the name of justice, I call them out on it."