Regarding the execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's tweeted, "I just gave the go ahead to Corrections Director to proceed with Gardner's execution."
Gardner was sentenced to death for a 1985 fatal courthouse shooting of attorney Michael Burdell during a failed escape attempt while facing a murder charge in the shooting death of a bartender that occurred in 1984.
On Friday, Gardner was first to face a Utah firing squad in 14 years.
Shurtleff actually posted three tweets:
-A solemn day. Barring a stay by Sup Ct, & with my final nod, Utah will use most extreme power & execute a killer. Mourn his victims. Justice
-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.
-We will be streaming live my press conference as soon as I’m told Gardner is dead. Watch it at www.attorneygeneral.Utah.gov/live.html
Reaction has been largely comprised of bloggers and Twitter users who objected to the tweets. Despite feelings about capital punishment, some users were caught off guard. Though it would seem none of Shurtleff's 7,700 followers should be too surprised. More likely, the tweets have stirred death penalty opponents in the Twitter arena.
Mashable's Stan Schroeder had a headline "A Tweet Too Far?" He also asks "Were these tweets really necessary?" Seriously? Is he suggesting there are tweets not really necessary? Robin Wauters of TechCrunch, wrote, "A sign of the times, although many may find it distasteful, or much worse."
Shurtleff has defended his posts in follow up tweets:
-I believe in an informed public. As elected official I use social media to communicate directly with people. BBC story http://bit.ly/axNGqn
-WARNING! This page informs on real world of crime and punishment. "If u can't stand the TWEET, get out of the TWITCHEN" Harry Truman #utpolice
-Astonishing that no retweet whiner express outrage that Gardner shot 2 men in the face, & a cop; nor one word of empathy for their families.