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Petition of death-row inmate denied

SALT LAKE CITY — 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 3rd District Judge Robin Reese to order a new sentencing hearing Thursday for Ronnie Lee Gardner.

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

Judge Reese last month signed the warrant that set Gardner’s June 18 execution date. Gardner, 49, chose firing squad over lethal injection.

He was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die in 1985 in the courthouse shooting death of a lawyer.

From wire dispatches and staff reports