Utah judge denies request to vacate death sentence of man set to die by firing squad

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah judge has denied a request to vacate the death sentence of a man set to be executed by firing squad next month.

Defense attorneys wanted Third District Judge Robin Reese to order a new sentencing hearing Thursday for Ronnie Lee Gardner.

But prosecutors said it's too late for Gardner to be raising new issues, and Reese agreed, saying arguments raised should have been part of a 2000 court filing.

Reese last month signed the warrant that set Gardner's June 18 execution date. Gardner chose firing squad over lethal injection.

The 49-year-old was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die in 1985 in the courthouse shooting death of an attorney.

Gardner's attorneys already have filed a notice of appeal with the Utah Supreme Court.