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A killer robbed Ruby Price's father, then shot him in the back, but the murder did not make the 94-year-old Layton grandmother a supporter of capital punishment.

"The Lord said, 'vengeance is mine," Price said Friday. "He didn't say, 'kill them.' ... You're no better than a murderer if you kill them."

She is a member of Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, a group that gathered at Salt Lake City's Matheson Courthouse shortly before a judge ruled Ronnie Lee Gardner will be executed June 18 by firing squad.

The anti-death penalty coalition represents numerous religious and human rights groups and individuals. All acknowledge the need to protect society from violent criminals, but believe there are better, more humane ways to do so.

Gardner's choice of firing squad likely will bring international attention to the execution, said Dee Rowland, who represents the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City. "It doesn't put Utah in the best light possible, but certainly enables [Gardner] to go out in a literal blaze of glory."

Gardner's situation may underscore the coalition's perspective, she said. Lethal injection tends to sanitize the killing, while a firing squad will force Utahns to "face the brutality of this execution."

The death penalty "diminishes us and erodes our respect for the sanctity of all human life," said John C. Wester, Utah's Catholic bishop. "Executing criminals will not overcome crime nor will it restore the lives of the innocent victims."

Besides, this group argues, capital punishment is more expensive than incarcerating criminals for life. It doesn't deter violent crime, either, members argue.

Their main reason for opposing the death penalty, though, is because of what it does to the society.

"This whole movement is not about the person who committed the crime," said Ralph Dellapiano of High Road for Human Rights. "It's about us. What are we going to do as a moral society?"

The Rev. David A. Henry, interim pastor at First Baptist Church in Salt Lake City, said use of the death penalty "tends to brutalize the society that condones it."

"Christians are to seek the redemption of evil-doers and not their death," Henry said.

This group doesn't expect to change Utah minds on the death penalty overnight, said Rowland, but it's too important not to try.