Firing Squad Ends Life of Utah Convict

From Associated Press

John Albert Taylor politely lifted his chin for a prison warden to secure a strap around his neck before a firing squad carried out the killer’s death sentence early Friday.

The simultaneous boom of five rifles broke the silence at Utah State Prison just after midnight in the nation’s first execution by firing squad since Gary Gilmore in 1977.

Taylor, 36, was found guilty in 1989 of raping an 11-year-old girl and strangling her with a telephone cord. Though he had insisted he was wrongly convicted, he fired his lawyers last year and dropped all appeals, saying he preferred death to prison.


Utah offers the condemned the choice between firing squad or lethal injection. Taylor had said he chose the firing squad to make a statement that Utah was sanctioning murder. Idaho is the only other state with a firing squad.

“I would just like to say for my family, for my friends, as the poem was written, ‘Remember me, but let me go,’ ” Taylor, strapped to a black metal seat, said before Warden Hank Galetka secured Taylor’s neck to the chair and placed a black hood over his head.

At 12:03 a.m., the riflemen fired at a white cloth target pinned over Taylor’s heart. Blood darkened the chest area of his navy blue clothing, and four minutes later, a doctor pronounced him dead.

Very little blood spilled into a pan under the chair’s mesh seat, Galetka said.

“Johnny was lucky. It went quicker than lethal injection,” said Taylor’s uncle, Gordon Lee, one of the witnesses.

Sherron King, the mother of Taylor’s victim, said she was alone in a Salt Lake City hotel room when the execution took place.

“I felt something pass through my heart around midnight and felt he was dead,” she said. “Part of me wanted him to die and the other part of me felt bad for him. My heart goes out to his mom.”