Gary Mark Gilmore's Profile

Friday, April 23, 2010

Gary Mark Gilmore (December 4, 1940 – January 17, 1977) was an American criminal and spree killer who gained international notoriety for demanding that his death sentence be fulfilled following two murders he committed in Utah. He became the first person executed in the United States after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a new series of death penalty statutes in the 1976 decision Gregg v. Georgia (these new statutes avoiding the problems that had led earlier death penalty statutes to be deemed unconstitutional in Furman v. Georgia). Gilmore was executed by firing squad and remained the last person to be killed that way in the United States until John Albert Taylor died in the same way in 1996.

Gilmore was born in Waco, Texas, the second of four sons born to Frank and Bessie Gilmore. His parents drifted around the Western United States while he and his brothers grew up, his father earning a living selling advertising space in magazines. Gilmore was raised in a dysfunctional family, and had a horrible relationship with his father. Gary's brother Mikal described their father as a "cruel and unreasonable man." Frank Gilmore's mother claimed that he was the illegitimate son of magician Harry Houdini, who rejected his paternity. Mikal has said he believes the story is not true, however his father believed this.

The Gilmore family settled in Portland, Oregon in 1952. Gilmore began getting into trouble with the law as a teenager, with offenses ranging from shoplifting, car theft and assault and battery. Although Gilmore had an I.Q. of 133, had high scores on both scholastic and academic tests, and clear artistic skills, he dropped out of high school at age 14. He ran away from home with a friend to Texas to see his place of birth, returning to Portland after several months.

The Murders he committed
On the evening of July 19, 1976, Gilmore robbed and murdered Max Jensen, a Sinclair gas station employee in Orem, Utah. The next evening, he robbed and murdered Bennie Bushnell, a motel manager in Provo. He murdered these people even though they complied with his demands. As he disposed of his .22 caliber pistol used in both killings, he accidentally shot himself in the hand, leaving a trail of blood from the gun to the service garage where he had left his truck to be repaired shortly before the murder of Bushnell. The garage owner, seeing the blood and hearing on a police scanner of the shooting at the nearby motel, wrote down Gilmore's license number and called the police. Gilmore's cousin, Brenda, turned him in to police shortly thereafter, after he placed a phone call to her asking for bandages and painkillers for the injury to his hand. Gilmore gave up without a fight as he was trying to drive out of Provo. He was charged with the murders of Bushnell and Jensen, although the latter case never went to trial, apparently because there were no eyewitnesses.

Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad on January 17, 1977, at 8:07 a.m. The night before, Gilmore had requested an all-night gathering of friends and family at the prison mess hall. On the evening before his execution, he was served a last meal consisting of a steak, potatoes, milk and coffee, of which he consumed only the milk and coffee. His uncle, Vern Damico, who attended the gathering later claimed to have secretly smuggled in three small, one-ounce Jack Daniels whisky shot bottles for Gilmore which he supposedly consumed.

Source: Wikipedia

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