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Scrapbok of the 20th Century: January 17, 1977: Execution of Gary Mark Gilmore

SHARE Scrapbok of the 20th Century: January 17, 1977: Execution of Gary Mark Gilmore

DESERET NEWS, Jan. 17, 1977: UTAH STATE PRISON -- A last-minute court decision cleared the way today for the execution of Gary Mark Gilmore, 36, and moments later the condemned killer was shot to death here by a firing squad.

Gilmore, who killed two young men in two robberies in Utah County last July, became the first man to suffer the death penalty in the United States in nearly 10 years. His execution was fought literally down to the last minute by opponents of capital punishment.Gilmore's victims were Max Jensen, Orem, a 24-year-old law student, and Bennie J. Bushnell, 26, a Provo motel manager.

The brash and charismatic Gilmore kept News readers entranced for the year and a half he spent in Utah's prison. His love affair with Nicole Barrett and their feeble attempts at double suicide, his love poems and his defiant challenge to state authorities to get his execution overwith almost overshadowed the depth of his crimes. His government-sanctioned death triggered a spate of executions across the country.