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Gary Gilmore 1/5

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Published on Mar 25, 2010

Gary Mark Gilmore (December 4, 1940 January 17, 1977) was an American criminal and spree killer who gained international notoriety for demanding that his death sentence be fulfilled following two murders he committed in Utah. He became the first person executed in the United States after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a new series of death penalty statutes in the 1976 decision Gregg v. Georgia (these new statutes avoiding the problems that had led earlier death penalty statutes to be deemed unconstitutional in Furman v. Georgia). Gilmore was executed by firing squad and remained the last person to be killed that way in the United States until John Albert Taylor died in the same way in 1996.

Gilmore's murder trial began at the Provo courthouse on October 5. On October 7, at 10:13 AM, the jury retired to consider the verdict. By mid-day, they returned with a guilty verdict. Later that day, the jury also unanimously recommended the death penalty because of special circumstances to the crime. At the time, Utah had two methods of execution firing squad or hanging, so Judge Bullock allowed Gilmore to choose between the two. Gilmore's reply was, "I'd prefer to be shot."

Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad on January 17, 1977, at 8:07 a.m. On the evening before his execution, he was served a last meal consisting of a steak, potatoes, milk and coffee, of which he consumed only the milk and coffee. His uncle, Vern Damico, who attended the gathering later claimed to have secretly smuggled in three small, one-ounce Jack Daniels whisky shot bottles for Gilmore which he supposedly consumed. He was then taken to an abandoned cannery behind the prison which served as the prison's death house. He was strapped to a chair, with a wall of sandbags placed behind him to absorb the bullets. Five gunmen, local police, stood concealed behind a curtain with five small holes cut for them to place their rifles through which were aimed at him. After being asked for any last words, Gilmore simply replied, "Let's do it!"

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