Tweeting an Execution

In what’s likely a first, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff tweeted an execution:

Friday morning’s execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner by firing squad seemed like a punishment straight out of the 19th century. But the mode of communication used to announce Gardner’s impending death was strictly 21st century: Twitter.

“I just gave the go ahead to Corrections Director to proceed with Gardner’s execution,” wrote Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff just after midnight on his Twitter feed. “May God grant him the mercy he denied his victims.” Here’s the image of his tweet:

Mashable, a site that covers social media, asked if it was necessary for Shurtleff to be tweeting right before Gardner was shot to death. A number of Twitter users were similarly put off, with one writing that Shurtleff’s tweet “will probably go down in history as the dumbest most disgusting use of Twitter ever.”

Shurtleff’s next tweet announced: “We will be streaming live my press conference as soon as I’m told Gardner is dead. Watch it at”

Rather in poor taste, no?

The Tweet above seems to be gone.  But here’s the relevant portion of Shurtleff’s stream:

Love that the get-out-the-vote Tweet precedes the ones on the execution.

via Taegan Goddard

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Science & Technology, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Ugh says:

    The execution will not be tweeted!

  2. PD Shaw says:

    Can the word “solemn” truly be used for a tweet? Shorter versions:

    U Need Me 4 G. 2 Die.

    I Rock!

    Oh yea, God Rocks Too!!!

  3. mike says:

    stay classy Shurtleff

  4. anjin-san says:


  5. Awesome says:


    Should have put it on PPV and given the profits to the victims’ families.


  6. James,

    I’m not so sure it’s all that bad. It seems no worse to me than having a press conference or an interview.

  7. mike says:

    same as a press conference or interview? seriously – the state spent millions of dollars prosecuting him, incarcerating him, appeals – not to mention the victims families – a man was put to death – and a tweet is the same thing – call me old fashioned but it isn’t the same – maybe next time there is a big earthquake or terrorist act, someone could just facebook it.