Heartwarming: A Murderer Watched ‘Lord Of The Rings’ As His Final Request
Today, we have for you the tale of a Lord of the Rings fan who knew he was close to dying. As a final request, he asked to watched the entire film trilogy, and he received this opportunity, getting to experience the story one last time. So inspirational! This gives us all the feels!
Oh, and did we mention that this fan, Ronnie Lee Gardner, was a convicted murderer, and this was his last request before being executed by firing squad? That rather important detail changes things a bit, and it may lead to you experiencing several additional feels.
Gardner was convicted of robbery in 1980 then broke out to hunt down the new man sleeping with his wife. This new man shot him in the neck, and police returned Gardner to prison. He tried escaping again a couple more times (one time, a guard shot him with a shotgun) and succeeded in 1984. He later mailed back a gun and wallet he’d stolen during the escape, saying “I don’t want to hurt no one else.”
He did in fact end up hurting more people. He murdered a bartender. Then police caught him, he tried escaping yet again, police shot him yet again, and he randomly shot a bailiff. He also shot and killed a lawyer in the courthouse, Michael Burdell, who had nothing to do with his case. Utah eventually sentenced Gardner to death for the murders, and he chose the firing squad, a method that was largely off the books but was technically allowed to him. The firing squad may hurt more than the guillotine or a swift swing of the axe, but it appears to be far more painless than lethal injection or the electric chair.
A fair number of people protested his death sentence, including the Mormon church and—maybe more surprisingly—the family of Michael Burdell, who said Burdell had opposed capital punishment. Nevertheless, on June 15, 2010, a squad of five unnamed police officers executed him with Winchester rifles. No one in the United States has died by firing squad since then.
For his last meal, Ronnie Lee Gardner ordered steak and lobster. Then he fasted for the final 48 hours before his execution and was allowed to watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. Sources do not reveal whether these were the extended editions of the films or the theatrical cuts.
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Top image: New Line Cinema, Utah Department of Corrections