Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist


Gary Gilmore
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Gary Gilmore - Another Wait For Kill Me Gary

Daily Mail 4th December 1976

GARY GILMORE, the death-wish killer who has pleaded with the law to let him face a firing squad, was last night given a further stay of execution by the United States Supreme Court.
Forty-eight hours before he was due to die by the bullet in Salt take City — the Mormon capital where his last hours are being played out In an atmosphere of grisly carnival --the court ruled that legal officials in Utah must respond to a dramatic plea from Gilmore's mother that her son's life should be spared.

The deadline for the reply has been fixed for 10 p.m. on Tuesday night British time. Gilmore was due to be executed at sunrise on Monday local time. In effect, it gives him a reprieve of slightly more than one day.

Ailing Mrs Bessie Gilmore had earlier asked the Utah Supreme Court to defer the carrying out of the death sentence.

By four votes to one, the five Justices of the State Court turned down her application. It was then referred to the Supreme Court In Washington. But in Utah, the grisly carnival still swings on.

IT IS only 100 miles to Las Vegas. But in   this   Mormon - dominated   community, you cannot buy a drink across
"a bar and the best gamble in town is to telephone a radio station and say why Gary Gilmore should still have his death wish.

The prize for the most novel opinion why the convicted killer should face a five-man firing squad—originally scheduled for sunrise on Monday—is just £5. But that is just a nibble at the financial fare to be had out of the all-time loser who is playing his death role scene against a chilling, almost unreal, carnival background much more bizarre than -any Cagney prison melodrama.

The State of Utah, after a trial, decided that Gilmore—'36 on Tuesday if he lives that long,' shout the, radio announcers here—should die for the brutal act of jamming a pistol to the head of a young motel worker and pulling the trigger.
Gilmore said he wanted to die. He did not want to spend his life behind bars in a 6ft, by 10ft. cell at the sprawling State prison.

This prompted legal action to stop the execution by opponents of capital punishment and on behalf of some of the other 423 Death Row Inmates across America who are not as set on meeting their Maker as Gilmore.

Three appeals are still outstanding, but Gilmore's case grows more of a cabaret by the minute.
A local pop group called 'Walla Walla' have just released a record entitled   The  Ballad  of  Gary  Gilmore  and the first lines go : •What's to become of Gary Gilmore,
the killer who wants to die ; will they shoot him in the morning •
or give him another try ?'
It is just part of the act. Gilmore, with the help of lawyers, has negotiated deals for film, book and magazine rights to his story amounting to more than £250,000, and' literary agent Scott Meredith said : 'Forty per cent, of the money will go to the relatives of the victims.'
Film producer Larry Schiller went into Utah State Prison and got .Gilmore's signature on a contract: — and they plan to start making the movie in February.

The Gilmore case is being used by local television channels to advertise 'live' TV coverage — and requests are also being made to Gilmore that a TV crew be among the five witnesses allowed by law to attend the execution.
If that attempt fails, one TV channel plans to charter a helicopter to fly over the prison and film the execution from the air.

While all this goes on around him, Gilmore sits in his maximum security cell listening to a radio he has just been given.
He is pale and thin from the hunger strike he has been on since November 19. He says he will stop the hunger strike—drinking six cans of beer for breakfast—if, and when he goes out to face five anonymous men armed with -30 calibre rifles.

This has prompted prison warden Samuel Smith to consider staging the execution indoors.

The snow is late in Utah, just beginning to fall around the prison, and the locals know that normally another 20in. are needed before skiers start arriving by the planeload.
'But visitors are coining in witn-out the snow,' said taxi driver John Nugent. 'Gilmore is the best snow in.the West.'

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