Famous Last Words
January 17, 1977
“Let’s do it!”
Gilmore was executed for the robbery and murder of a gas station attendant and motel manager. When sentenced to death, he chose firing squad over hanging as he believed hanging could be botched causing the executed to be slowly strangled instead of instantly dying from a snapped neck.
Gilmore’s trial obtained a small of press due to his intent on being executed. His mother tried to sue for a stay of execution, but was unsuccessful. The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), despite Gilmore’s wishes, was granted several stays of execution, but finally the courts overturned the last of these stays and Gilmore was executed, strapped to a chair, with a hood over his head, in front of a wall of sandbags.
Traditionally, to prevent the executioners from knowing who had actually killed the condemned (possibly to alleviate any guilt the executioner may feel later), 4 of the 5 guns were filled with live ammunition while 1 held a blank. However, when his body was inspected it was noted he had 5 holes in his clothing, and his brother Mikal Gilmore later wrote “the state of Utah, apparently, had taken no chances on the morning that it put my brother to death.”
Gilmore was executed in Utah, one of two states in the US to offer death by firing squad, the other state being Oklahoma.