Shot To The Heart
As Gilmore prepared for death, the squad prepared to carry out the first execution in almost a decade
The firing squad, comprised of five marksmen, is assembled behind a wall with rifle ports, about 7.5 metres away from the chair. Four members of the squad are given a rifle with two rounds of live ammunition, while one is given non- lethal wax bullets. The location of the dummy rounds are not disclosed to the officers, so each may in theory can believe they did not deliver the fatal shot.
Once all formalities regarding Gilmore’s last rites have been carried out, a black corduroy hood is placed over his face. Gilmore makes a request for execution without the hood but this was denied.
Once the warden receives confirmation that all final appeals have been exhausted and there are no stays of execution, he gives the order to a supervisor to proceed with the execution, and a countdown begins. At the end of the countdown the officers fire their rifles.
A paper target is pinned over Gilmore’s heart, giving the marksmen an indication as to where they should aim.
On the morning of 17 January 1977, a condemned Gilmore is led and strapped to a sturdy steel chair on an elevated platform that sits in the execution chamber behind Utah State Penitentiary.
Gilmore is strapped to the chair. A halo brace holds his head in place. He is asked if he has any final words and is limited to two minutes. Official guidelines stipulate that if a prisoner exceeds that time or uses profanities or foul language then the execution should proceed.
Several large sandbags are stacked each side of the chair for the purpose of catching any ricocheting bullets.