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Utah Supreme Court denies inmate's appeal 2 weeks before scheduled execution by firing squad

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Supreme Court has denied a man's appeal of his death warrant two weeks before he is scheduled to be executed by firing squad.

The high court on Friday upheld a lower court's ruling that Ronnie Lee Gardner cannot challenge the signing of the warrant. The five justices agreed with prosecutors that a sentence can be appealed but not an order to carry out that sentence.

Gardner is set to die by firing squad on June 18.

The 49-year-old was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die in 1985 for the fatal courthouse shooting of attorney Michael Burdell that year.

Gardner has a separate appeal pending with the Utah Supreme Court that will be heard next week.

The Utah parole board also will hold a hearing on whether to commute his sentence.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A condemned inmate set for execution this month by firing squad has challenged his death warrant before the Utah Supreme Court.

Attorneys for Ronnie Lee Gardner have asked justices to reverse a state court judge's order of execution and impose a lifetime prison sentence.

As an alternative, Gardner's attorney says the case also could be sent back to state court for a new sentencing hearing.

The 49-year-old Gardner is scheduled to be executed June 18.

State attorneys say Gardner has no right to appeal the signing of a death warrant.

Chief Justice Christine Durham on Thursday said the five-member panel would take the arguments under advisement. It wasn't clear when a ruling would be issued.

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