Marksmen in the american state of Utah have killed a man, the first such execution in 14 years.
Why is Utah resorting to the firing squad?
Mr. Gardner, 49, chose the firing squad as his method of execution before it was banned by Utah in 2004.
He was only the third man put to death in that way in the US since 1976.
He was convicted in 1985 of fatally shooting a lawyer during an attempt to escape from a court where he was facing another murder charge dating from 1984.
A federal appeals court in Denver, CO denied Gardner’s request for a stay of execution on Thursday.
Just hours before his scheduled execution, the US Supreme Court – the highest court in the nation – rejected Gardner’s final appeal against that decision.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert also rejected a request for a temporary stay on Thursday, saying Gardner’s legal team had presented no material that had not already been considered by the courts.
“Mr Gardner has had a full and fair opportunity to have his case considered by numerous tribunals,” he said in a statement.
On Tuesday, he ate his final meal of steak, lobster, apple pie, vanilla ice cream and 7-Up, before beginning a 48-hour fast.
His lawyers said Gardner had undertaken his fast for “spiritual reasons”, the Salt Lake City Tribune newspaper reported.
The execution was carried out by a five-man firing squad.
Four of their rifles were loaded with live bullets but a fifth carried a blank, so that none of the men knows with certainty that he shot a lethal round.
Gardner was hooded and strapped to a black metal chair, with a target pinned to his chest. He was asked for his last words before the firing squad’s triggers were pulled.
Critics say the method is a relic from the state’s Wild West past and should be abolished.
Death row convicts in Utah were for decades allowed to choose their method of execution.
State legislators removed that choice in 2004 and made lethal injection the standard method – but inmates sentenced before then can still opt for firing squad.
Historians say the method stems from 19th Century doctrine of the state’s predominant religion. Early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believed in the concept of “blood atonement” — that only through spilling one’s own blood could a condemned person adequately atone for their crimes and be redeemed in the next life. The church no longer preaches such teachings and offers no opinion on the use of the firing squad.
The American Civil Liberties Union decried Gardner’s execution as an example of what it called the United States’ “barbaric, arbitrary and bankrupting practice of capital punishment.”
At an interfaith vigil in Salt Lake City on Thursday evening, religious leaders called for an end to the death penalty.
“Murdering the murderer doesn’t create justice or settle any score,” said Rev. Tom Goldsmith