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US Supreme Court clears way for firing squad execution

The US Supreme Court has denied three appeals by a condemned Utah inmate set to be executed by firing squad.

The court released the orders hours before Ronnie Lee Gardner, 49, was scheduled to be put to death at the Utah State Prison. His execution was set for just after midnight local time (0600 GMT).

The decisions appeared to put an end to the last of a long list of legal filings that Gardner's attorneys submitted to state and federal courts and a Utah parole board as they tried to stop the execution.

"This is everything, and we aren't expecting anything else," Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe Estrada said.

Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke said there were no pending issues pending for the courts.

Mr Gehrke said corrections officials were going to let Gardner's attorneys give him the news. Gardner was sleeping on and off during the evening and watching movies.

"We are disappointed with the court's decisions, declining to hear Mr Gardner's case," one of his attorneys, Megan Moriarty, said. "It's unfair that he will be executed without a full and fair review of his case."

One of the orders showed that two of the high court's justices, Stephen Breyer and John Paul Stevens, would have granted Gardner's request for a stay.

Gardner was sentenced to death for a 1985 capital murder conviction stemming from the fatal courthouse shooting of attorney Michael Burdell during an escape attempt.

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