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© Trent Nelson/AP - Pool

BagNewsNotes ran the above photograph with commentary. It goes without saying that I am opposed to the death penalty, which is nothing more than foolish symbolic act in our political economy.

Four bullets passed through Ronnie Lee Gardner. In this photograph, three bullet-holes are visible in the wood. Photographer, Trent Nelson presented a six-part series on his coverage of the case, appeals and execution in Utah. Part six is titled ‘The End’:

I’m told that I can only bring one camera, no camera bag, and I must have a lens cap on my lens. That changes things. I grab a body with a 16-35, stick a flash on top, pop in my most reliable battery and an 8 gigabyte card. It’s an uncomfortably light kit for such a big assignment.

The photographs and text are a detailed account of a surreal event:

Immediately there are disagreements about details. Standing at the window of the execution chamber after Gardner was shot, one reporter had drawn a sketch of the target on Gardner’s heart indicating the four bullet marks. He insists his sketch of the target is accurate, while another reporter disputes it, saying that two shots were actually on the left not the right.


Reporters are soon climbing all over the chair, pointing at the bullet holes, poking their fingers in them.

In this execution chamber, in this prison, the media record the evidence and in so doing confirm the deed done. Very surreal.


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