POINT OF THE MOUNTAIN, UTAH: A little after midnight Thursday, a black hood was put over John Taylor's head, a white cloth pinned over his heart, and he was shot to death, the first convict executed by firing squad in the United States since 1977. Taylor, who had been convicted in 1989 of raping and strangling to death an eleven-year-old girl, chose a firing squad over lethal injection, an option the state of Utah offers its deathrow inmates, because he said it would be quicker. Gordon Lee, Taylor's uncle, thinks it should have happened sooner too, instead of seven years after Taylor was sentenced to death. After watching the execution, he told reporters: "Johnny was lucky. It went quicker than lethal injection, but seven years is a long time to die." According to TIME's Adam Cohen, "Taylor's execution less than a day after Delaware hung Billy Bailey may signal that the battle over capital punishment is shifting out of the courts and into the court of public opinion. For years, there have been a lot of legal challenges to capital punishment, but without many executions. But with more and more people on death row exhausting legal challenges, we will probably be seeing a sharp increase in executions over the next several years."