Firing squads ceased to be offered as a death penalty method following John Albert Taylor’s execution in Utah in 1996.
Taylor was executed by firing squad in Utah on 26 January 1996 in an alleged sensational bid to embarrass the largely Mormon political population. A commentator at the time said ‘he wanted to cause more trouble for the state’.
Taylor purported that he didn’t want the lethal injection because he didn’t want to flap around ‘like a dying fish’, but many believe it is because he was making a point.
You see, the Mormons were desperately trying to phase out firing squads as a method of ‘blood atonement’, ie, a death for a death. It was felt that the execution method was anachronistic – it no longer seemed fitting in the modern day.
Similarly, Utah was keen to stop offering death by firing squad, because it enabled murderers to exit in a blaze of glory.
Cue, paedophile Taylor, who was convicted of the 1988 rape of 11-year-old Charla King who he then strangled to death. His own fingerprints were found on the cord wound tight around the child’s neck, linking him unequivocally to the murder. And in turn, the murder led to his death penalty.
Shot to the heart
Five rifles were used to put Taylor the death and, according to the ‘New York Times’, the shooters apparently took aim at a white circle on his blue jumpsuit, which helped them target his heart.
The execution took place within the confines of the Utah-based prison, but not without controversy. The 36-year-old is currently the last person to have been executed in the United States by firing squad, and the penalty only remains legal in Idaho and Oklahoma.