And you thought Spencer Pratt and Tila Tequila used Twitter for odd reasons.
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff used Twitter early Friday to announce the death — by firing squad — of a convicted killer.
It took 134-characters to announce the death of Ronnie Lee Gardner, 49, condemned to die for two murders.
In announcing the execution of Gardner Friday, the Attorney General Tweeted: “I just gave the go ahead to Corrections Director to proceed with Gardner’s execution. May God grant him the mercy he denied his victims.”
Some 7,000 people follow Shurtleff on Twitter.
In all, Shurtleff sent three Tweets about the execution. In his first Tweet, sent at 1:18 pm on Thursday, Shurtleff reflect on the seriousness of the occasion.
“A solemn day. Barring a stay by Sup Ct [US Supreme Court], & with my final nod, Utah will use most extreme power & execute a killer. Mourn his victims. Justice”.
Later Thursday, Shurtleff posted confirmation that he had indeed given that “final nod”.
Fifteen minutes later, at 12:15 am Friday, he Tweeted, “We will be streaming live my press conference as soon as I’m told Gardner is dead. Watch it at http://www.attorneygeneral.Utah.gov/live.html”; he wrote.
Gardner was sentenced to death after being convicted of murder in 1985 for the fatal courthouse shooting of an attorney during a failed escape attempt. Gardner was at the Salt Lake City court facing a murder charge in the shooting death of a bartender when he took a gun smuggled into him and he shot the attorney in the face.
Gardner himself chose the firing squad as his means of execution before it was banned by the state of Utah and replaced by lethal injection.
As the execution neared, Gardner was strapped to a black metal chair and hooded and a target was placed over his chest.
Five executioners fired .30 caliber rifles, although one of the firearms carried a blank, allowing members of the firing squad to have some doubt over whether or not they had fired the fatal round into Gardner’s chest.
Gardner ate his last meal of steak, lobster tail, apple pie, vanilla ice cream and 7UP soda on Thursday, having chosen to fast for the remaining time until his execution.
On Thursday, Utah Governor Gary Herbert, who does not have the power to commute a death sentence or pardon a condemned prisoner, denied Gardner’s request for a temporary stay of execution.
“Upon careful review, there is nothing in the materials provided this morning that has not already been considered and decided by the Board of Pardons and Parole or numerous courts,” Herbert said in a written statement released through his office.
“Mr. Gardner has had a full and fair opportunity to have his case considered by numerous tribunals,” the governor said.
His last hope for a reprieve was dashed when the U.S. Supreme Court denied his 11th-hour appeal.
Gardner is the third convicted killer to be executed by a firing squad in U.S. since 1976.
Some of Gardner’s relatives held a candlelight prayer vigil near the prison in the hours leading up to the execution.