Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Sunday, October 9, 2016


On this date, October 9, 1984, Melvyn Otterstrom was shot and killed by Ronnie Lee Gardner in Salt Lake City, Utah. Justice was served 26 years later, when the killer was put to death by firing squad on June 18, 2010.

Let us hear from Otterstrom’s cousin, Craig Watson who favored the death penalty for Gardner even years after watching the execution:

Melvyn Otterstrom had joined a Green Beret unit. (Otterstrom family photo)

QUOTE 1: "The 18th will be a day of closure."

QUOTE 2: After the hearing, Otterstrom's cousin, Craig Watson, said he wants the execution to go through as scheduled. "It's about time justice is served," he said. (June 3, 2010)

QUOTE 3: A police officer with 35 years on the job, Watson said Gardner accepted the punishment "like a man." Gardner, he noted, seemed calm before the hood was slipped on.

"There was no crying, no wimpering," Watson said Friday. "When it was over with, I just had this feeling that he's gone and we can move on."


 Craig Watson
QUOTE 4: Thursday November 15, 2012 - Craig Watson said he didn’t know if “closure” was the proper word.

But as he witnessed the 2010 execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner, who killed Watson’s cousin Melvyn J. Otterstrom at a bar in 1984, a feeling of peace came over him: It was, finally, over.

As Utah lawmakers weigh the cost of executing men like Gardner versus keeping them in prison for life, Watson asked them on Wednesday to remember there are some things that no amount of money can touch — a message also shared by Barbara Noriega, whose mother and sister were killed by another man now on Utah’s death row.

“With the death sentence, there are no recurring offenders and we can go on with our lives,” Watson said, his voice breaking at times as he addressed the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee.

QUOTE 5: Watson agreed the legal process is too lengthy and often painful, an argument for streamlining rather than doing away with the death penalty.

For more than two decades, as they waited for justice to be carried out, Watson said he and other relatives had every “stupid” move Gardner shoved in their faces — among them, feigned illnesses and escape attempts, including one at a courthouse in 1985 where Gardner fatally shot attorney Michael Burdell and wounded bailiff Nick Kirk. 

“We got to hear about it, we got to see it, we got to relive it,” said Watson, a 37-year veteran law enforcement officer.

Since Gardner’s execution, Otterstrom’s widow and son have finally been able to move on with their lives, he said.

“In my opinion, there isn’t enough money to make a difference,” Watson said.

AUTHOR: Craig Watson is the cousin of Melvyn John Otterstrom, who was shot dead by Ronnie Lee Gardner on October 9, 1984.

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