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Bill to repeal death penalty in Utah clears key vote

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Firing squad at the Utah State Prison.

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would repeal the death penalty in Utah has cleared a key vote, passing 20 to 9 in the Utah State Senate.

In an unusual moment, senators had no comment when it came time to debate Senate Bill 189, which would end capital punishment in Utah. They were silent after Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, finished his presentation.

Urquhart said he had many “behind the scenes” conversations with his colleagues ahead of the vote.  Urquhart argued that executing someone is costly, makes “rock stars” out of condemned killers and doesn’t exact the justice many seek.

Watching the vote in the Senate gallery was Randy Gardner, the brother of Ronnie Lee Gardner, who was the last man to be executed in the state of Utah by firing squad back in 2010. He said he was pleased to see SB189 pass.

“We don’t have the right to kill to show that killing is wrong,” Randy Gardner told FOX 13 after the vote.

SB189 has one more vote in the Senate which could happen later this week. If it passes, the bill goes to the House for consideration.