Covering the Execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner, part 6 The End

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Draper - The execution chamber at the Utah State Prison after Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by firing squad Friday, June 18, 2010. Four bullet holes are visible in the wood panel behind the chair. Gardner was convicted of aggravated murder, a capital felony, in 1985.

At 4am Friday I was done covering the execution. I sat down and wrote all I could remember… My first stop is to the media area, set up at the police academy. To get into the parking lot I have to show my press pass at a roadblock. Once in there are patrols of police…

Death Chamber – Ronnie Lee Gardner

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Draper - The execution chamber at the Utah State Prison after Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by firing squad Friday, June 18, 2010. Four bullet holes are visible in the wood panel behind the chair. Gardner was convicted of aggravated murder, a capital felony, in 1985.

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Covering the Execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner, part 5

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Draper - Family members of Nicolas G. Kirk, a deputy shot by Ronnie Lee Gardner, react as the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole announced their unanimous decision to deny Ronnie Lee Gardner's request for commutation Monday, June 14, 2010. He is scheduled to be executed by firing squad Friday. Left to right, front row, Jamie Stewart (granddaughter), Mandi Hull (granddaughter), Barb Webb (daughter). Left to right, back row, Doug Fawson (director of victim services, department of corrections), Tammie Atkin (victim advocate, Utah Attorney General's Office), Tami Stewart (daughter).

The meeting was very quick. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole would announce their decision. Gardner would either be executed or his sentence commuted to life in prison without parole. It was very tense.   I trained my camera on the victims’ families. The Board announced its unanimous decision not to commute Gardner’s sentence.…

Covering the Execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner, part 3

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Draper - Commutation hearing for death-row inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner Thursday, June 10, 2010, at the Utah State Prison. Andrew Parnes at right

  The final witness on day one of the commutation hearing is the offender, Ronnie Lee Gardner. He’s sworn in and makes a statement, then answers questions. His lawyer reads a letter Gardner wrote to Oprah, hoping to get her financial help in starting up a farm for neglected and abused children on some land…

Covering the Execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner, part 2

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Draper - Commutation hearing for death-row inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner Thursday, June 10, 2010, at the Utah State Prison. Mandi Hull supports her aunt Tami Stewart as she testifies.

Day one of the commutation hearing. Get to the state prison at the crack of dawn. Leave everything in the car other than my ID and the photo gear that has been previously approved. Also left in my car is a photo editor who will edit and transmit my photos. The hearing is scheduled to…

Covering the Execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner, part 1

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Kearns - Family members of Deputy Nick Kirk, who was shot and seriously wounded by Ronnie Lee Gardner in 1985, talk about the effect Gardner's actions had on their lives Thursday, April 22, 2010. VelDean Kirk (widow, in denim), Bruce Webb (black shirt), Tami Stewart (daughter, gray), Barb Webb (daughter, pink)

A while back I got a call from an editor who wanted to assign me to the firing squad execution of convicted killer Ronnie Lee Gardner. He asked me if I’d have any problems doing that, if it would get into my head or whatever. If I were to be a witness to this man…

Ronnie Lee Gardner’s request for commutation denied

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Draper - Family members of Nicolas G. Kirk, a deputy shot by Ronnie Lee Gardner, react as the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole announced their unanimous decision to deny Ronnie Lee Gardner's request for commutation Monday, June 14, 2010. He is scheduled to be executed by firing squad Friday. Left to right, front row, Jamie Stewart (granddaughter), Mandi Hull (granddaughter), Barb Webb (daughter). Left to right, back row, Doug Fawson (director of victim services, department of corrections), Tammie Atkin (victim advocate, Utah Attorney General's Office), Tami Stewart (daughter).

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Commutation hearing for death-row inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner, Day 2

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Draper - Board of Pardons and Parole members (left to right) Iris Hemenway, Clark Harms, Curtis Garner, Jesse Gallegos and Donald Blanchard listen to closing arguments on the second day of a commutation hearing for death-row inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner Friday, June 11, 2010, at the Utah State Prison.

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Back to Work – Men vs. Women

My first assignment back at work after the Olympics was a murder. A woman, Maralee Andreason, was found dead in her apartment. Police said it appears her boyfriend, Thomas Valdez (aka Jimbo), beat her to death. From the Trib: West Valley City police LT. Bill Merritt said Valdez indicated he was in the apartment alone…

Parole Hearings

I’m sent down to the Utah State Prison in Draper to photograph the parole hearing of Melinda Chasteen. Chasteen was, at 16, the youngest inmate at the prison when she arrived with a 5-years-to-life sentence for attempted aggravated murder. (While this post refers to other inmates, the photographs here are of Chasteen’s hearing only.) A…