Utah will execute three inmates by firing squad for the first time since the method was reinstated in 2015 by Gov. Gary Herbert.
The three condemned, Taberon Dave Honie, Troy Michael Kell, and Ralph Leroy Menzies, all opted for the firing squad instead of the more traditional lethal injection of sodium thiopental and potassium chloride. They are all guilty of murder, with Honie also guilty of raping his ex-girlfriend’s mother in front of her grandchildren. Their execution dates have not yet been set.
Utah’s reintroduction of the firing squad comes in the middle of a national debate over the death penalty. The method was brought back in part because of a nationwide shortage of lethal injection drugs after several companies said they would stop selling them to states using them for capital punishment.
Earlier this month, Arkansas pledged to execute eight of its inmates on death row before a sedative it uses for executions expires. As of Friday, four have been killed.
In March, the Utah Department of Corrections released part of its technical manual for the execution process. In it, the state outlines how individuals who volunteer to be in the firing squad must first complete three rehearsals, be licensed law enforcement officers and pass a firearms proficiency test.
Oklahoma and Utah are the only two states with a firing squad option for death row inmates. Lawmakers in Oklahoma also introduced a method where the condemned wears a mask that is pumped with nitrogen gas until the inmate dies from oxygen deprivation.
Other states, like Mississippi and South Carolina, have introduced bills to bring back older, alternative methods, like the electric chair, because of drug shortages.