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Old and bloody tradition revived as Utah prepares firing squad
The Independent (UK) ^ | 23 May 2003 | Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles

Posted on 05/22/2003 1:32:11 PM PDT by Willie Green

For education and discussion only. Not for commercial use.

Utah is getting ready to execute two convicted criminals by firing squad, an old and bloody means of execution that is likely to stir renewed debate about the cruelty of capital punishment in the United States.

The two men, a serial killer and a white supremacist who stabbed a fellow inmate in a vicious murder captured on videotape, are scheduled to die on consecutive nights at the end of next month.

Under Utah's laws, any prisoner sentenced to death has the right to choose between lethal injection - the preferred method of almost all US states that practise the death penalty - and a firing squad. The firing squad tradition is rooted in Mormon custom, which holds that blood must be shed for the crime of murder to be appropriately punished. Utah is the only US state to continue the practice, although it has done so just twice since capital punishment was reintroduced by the Supreme Court in 1976.

One of the men approaching their date with the executioner, Roberto Arguellos, a serial killer and rapist, has been begging the court system to put him to death for years. Not only does he want to die by firing squad, he says, but he wants to waive the right to have a hood over his head as it happens.

The other inmate, Troy Michael Kell, a white supremacist, has sworn, spat and wriggled his way through his various court hearings.

Both cases are problematic. A lawyer for Arguellos has filed a motion - against his will - for clemency on the grounds of mental deficiency. Kell, meanwhile, has filed an appeal for a stay of execution, which is likely to be granted.

The executions come just a month after the US State Department roundly condemned Cuba for executing a gang of ferry hijackers - they too were killed by firing squad.

The firing squads will be made up of police volunteers, who will remain anonymous.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: Utah
KEYWORDS: capitalpunishment; deathpenalty; firingsquad
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I've nothing against firing squads, but I DO think a suitable length of rope is more "traditional".

Rope has other advantages as well: it is more energy efficient, can be reused many times, and doesn't release pollutants into the environment.

1 posted on 05/22/2003 1:32:11 PM PDT by Willie Green
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To: Willie Green
"The firing squads will be made up of police volunteers, who will remain anonymous."

He's got nothing to worry about ;)
2 posted on 05/22/2003 1:35:21 PM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: Willie Green
The executions come just a month after the US State Department roundly condemned Cuba for executing a gang of ferry hijackers - they too were killed by firing squad.

The ones in Cuba were killed without appeal.

3 posted on 05/22/2003 1:39:11 PM PDT by AppyPappy (If You're Not A Part Of The Solution, There's Good Money To Be Made In Prolonging The Problem.)
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To: Willie Green
The executions come just a month after the US State Department roundly condemned Cuba for executing a gang of ferry hijackers - they too were killed by firing squad.

What the heck does Cuba's human rights violations have to do with executing convicted killers? Seems like the author has some other axe to grind. There is no moral equivalence between Cuba murdering political dissidents and Utah's morally justified execution of convicted murders.

4 posted on 05/22/2003 1:41:51 PM PDT by VoteHarryBrowne2000 (my $.02)
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To: Willie Green
The executions come just a month after the US State Department roundly condemned Cuba for executing a gang of ferry hijackers - they too were killed by firing squad.

The hijackers didn't commit murders. They attempted to escape a dictatorial regime bent on crushing all who would question it. These two are convicted felons who committed murders. They are, in fact, not in the same league as the Cubans, whose families can remember them with pride.

5 posted on 05/22/2003 1:41:56 PM PDT by theDentist (So. This is Virginia.... where are all the virgins?)
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To: Willie Green
LOL!

Rope IS more "environmentally friendly"!

Tia

6 posted on 05/22/2003 1:44:03 PM PDT by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: Willie Green
The other inmate, Troy Michael Kell, a white supremacist, has sworn, spat and wriggled his way through his various court hearings.

A white supremacist? No one will say a thing about the form of execution...sure, maybe a handful, but I bet the ACLU, etc. are pretty much mum. Now, if it was a black panther, yeah, they would say something...

7 posted on 05/22/2003 1:44:37 PM PDT by milan
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To: Willie Green
Mr Kell, who appears to not want to die, has chosen death by firing squad over lethal injection? Seems odd.
8 posted on 05/22/2003 1:46:08 PM PDT by skeeter (Fac ut vivas)
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To: AppyPappy
How many people did the Cuban hijackers kill?

Kell's case gives the lie to the "life in prison" argument for convicted murderers. He was able to kill while in prison. The only way to protect society is to execute convicted murderers.
9 posted on 05/22/2003 1:47:30 PM PDT by TheDon ( It is as difficult to provoke the United States as it is to survive its eventual and tardy response)
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To: Willie Green
Apparently, you're not familiar with the pollutants often released by the decedent dangling from the end of the rope.
10 posted on 05/22/2003 1:47:43 PM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: Willie Green
Hanging is a traitors' death.

Firing Squad is an "honorable" death.

At least that has been the "traditional" view of such things.
11 posted on 05/22/2003 1:48:12 PM PDT by The Shootist
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To: Willie Green
"The firing squad tradition is rooted in Mormon custom, which holds that blood must be shed for the crime of murder to be appropriately punished."

If they were hung, injected, electrocuted etc. no Mormon would be griping that they were not appropriately punished. Support for the principle of capital punishment has traditionaly been high among Mormons, but dead is dead and how it happens is not important.
12 posted on 05/22/2003 1:49:03 PM PDT by Grig
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To: AppyPappy
appea;? How about the original trumped up charges not to mention the kangaroo court stocked with fidels lackeys. Also their crime was to nice and politely try to hijack this boat to miami not kill and maime.
13 posted on 05/22/2003 1:51:45 PM PDT by Joe Boucher
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To: Willie Green
I suspect that the prisoner's request of a firing squad over other methods available to them, is a ploy.
14 posted on 05/22/2003 1:52:08 PM PDT by AxelPaulsenJr (Shriner's Childrens Hospitals Provide Free Medical Care to Those In Need.)
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To: Willie Green
'Makes me think of California's hanging days.

One condemmed inmate once asked, "Will it hurt?"

The guard ansered, "No one ever complained."

Then there was the 300 pound woman...whose hanging ripped her head off.

15 posted on 05/22/2003 1:52:19 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: Mr. Lucky
Apparently, you're not familiar with the pollutants often released by the decedent dangling from the end of the rope.

That's just wormfood and not much to be concerned about. It's biodegradable.

16 posted on 05/22/2003 1:52:52 PM PDT by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: skeeter
Mr Kell, who appears to not want to die, has chosen death by firing squad over lethal injection? Seems odd.

If I had to face execution, I'd rather go before a firing squad than take a lethal injection.

Being strapped to a stretcher while an intravenous drip fills one's veins with poison makes it look like a medical procedure.

A hanging or a firing squad looks a lot more like justice being done.

17 posted on 05/22/2003 1:54:19 PM PDT by Loyalist (Keeper of the Schismatic Orc Ping List. Freepmail me if you want on or off it.)
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To: milan
I looked on the ACLU national site and the ACLU Utah site. Using their search engine with a variety of words related to this, I couldn't find anything.
18 posted on 05/22/2003 1:56:47 PM PDT by freedom moose
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To: The Shootist
"Hanging is a traitors' death. Firing Squad is an "honorable" death. At least that has been the "traditional" view of such things."

I believe Utah's firing-squad option has to do with the "blood atonement" aspect of the Mormon faith, probably harking back to the admonition in the Bible: "If any shed man's, blood, by man shall his be shed," or words to that effect.

19 posted on 05/22/2003 1:57:35 PM PDT by redhead (Les Franšais sont des singes de capitulation qui mangent du fromage.)
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To: VoteHarryBrowne2000
It obviously has nothing to do with executing convicted killers. The article comes from the UK Independent and their view of journalistic "objectivity" in England is to say anything they can, no matter how much of a stretch, to bash the U.S. So this is just another liberal attempt at US bashing.
20 posted on 05/22/2003 1:58:35 PM PDT by martinaricejr
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