Byline: Brady McCombs and Lindsay Whiehurst
SALT LAKE CITY -- Randy Gardner still struggles four years later to talk about seeing his brother's bullet-riddled body at the mortuary after he was executed.
Ronnie Lee Gardner was the last person to die by firing squad in Utah -- a method state lawmakers voted this week to reinstate, illustrating frustrations across the U.S. over bungled executions and shortages of lethal-injection drugs.
Randy Gardner made it clear Wednesday he did not condone what his brother did -- first killing a bartender and later shooting a lawyer to death and wounding a bailiff during a courthouse escape attempt.
But he said the firing squad is brutal.
''When you take somebody and you tie them to a chair, put a hood over their head, and you shoot them from 25 feet with four rifles pointed at their heart, that's pretty barbaric.''
The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Paul Ray, sees it differently.
Ray argues a team of trained marksmen is faster and more humane than the drawn-out deaths involved when lethal injections go awry -- or even if they go as planned.
''Your body is paralyzed. You feel everything,'' Ray said. ''Your body slowly shuts down over a period of minutes based on the drug cocktail that's given to you. Whereas a firing squad, you reach the death obviously in three to five...