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Inmate says he'd
rather die than deal with arthritis
March 21, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY -- A man
Utah's death row for killing an attorney at a courthouse said he wants
to be executed to avoid the pain of chronic arthritis.
Ronnie Lee Gardner, 46, claims he's not getting proper care at Utah
State Prison. He said a prison doctor asked why he didn't drop his
appeal to end his suffering.
should always follow your doctor's orders,
except in legal matters," U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell told
Gardner. Campbell advised him not to drop his appeal while other issues
in so much pain," Gardner told the judge by phone. "I sleep two hours
in a 24-hour period. ... They're pushing me so far that I can't think
positively anymore. I'm normally a positive person."
medical director at the Utah Department of
Corrections said he can't believe that any doctor would have encouraged
Gardner to drop his appeals in favor of execution.
staff are caring individuals," Dr. Richard
Garden said Tuesday. "The care that he has been provided with has been
excellent care. We've included outside consultation, repeated testing
and other imaging."
was sentenced to death for killing attorney Michael Burdell during an
attempted escape from the Salt Lake County courthouse in 1985. He was
captured on the lawn.
appeal centers on jury instructions given at his trial. The Attorney
General's Office has argued that it's too late to raise that claim.
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