Utah Rejects Bill To Abolish Death Penalty

| by Sean Kelly
Protesters outside of the Utah State Capitol buildingProtesters outside of the Utah State Capitol building

The state of Utah decided not to abolish the death penalty, despite an unexpected push to do so starting in the Senate.

A legislative session ended with the decision to uphold the practice of capital punishment, despite a bill that would outlaw it passing through the state senate in early March.

"I can’t say that the bill is totally a victim of the clock, but you know, if we had another week or so, it would be interesting to see what would have happened," Republican Sen. Steve Urquhart, who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Eric Huntchings, told the Associated Press. "I think that people ruled us out at every step and we kept progressing."

In the end, the bill was unable to secure enough votes in the state's House of Representatives to pass. Urquhart said that he abandoned his push after too many undecided legislators pointed toward several more hours of convincing.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, who supports capital punishment, never said definitively if he'd have vetoed the measure.

"I'm pro-death penalty, but with the parameters that [it is to be used] on very rare occasions [and only] for the most heinous of crimes," he said. "And that's how Utah has utilized it over the last 40 years. We've only had seven executions in 40 years. This is not Texas."

The brother of Ronnie Lee Gardner, the last man to be executed in the state, watched as Urquhart decided to end his push for abolition of the death penalty.

"Nobody has the right to do that [impose the death penalty] to somebody. I don't care who he is and what he did," Randy Gardner shouted from the gallery, Yahoo News reported. He was then escorted off in handcuffs.

Sources: Associated Press, Yahoo News / Photo credit: Wikipedia

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