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Outside Salt Lake's massive Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution, a handful of pickets paraded among the Christmas shoppers with sandwich boards demanding RELEASE GILMORE NOW. "The man I see there is not a guilty killer," said Demonstrator Larry Wood, 30, pointing to a newspaper photograph of the wan Gilmore at the hearing. "He looks like a high beam to me. We Christians should turn the other cheek."
Though Gilmore has persistently disavowed all lawyers who tried to win him a reprieve, the decisive intervention came when Stanford Law Professor Anthony G. Amsterdam moved in the following day, on behalf of Gilmore's mother. Amsterdam, a leader in the fight against capital punishment for a decade, filed a petition with Supreme Court Justice Byron White, who is responsible for emergency appeals in the Utah area. "The need for a stay of execution is obvious," said Amsterdam. "Such stays are commonly granted in death cases. Indeed, the only factor that makes this application unusual is [Gilmore's] assertion that he wished to be executed." Among Amsterdam's reasons for appealing: that there may have been judicial errors in the original trial, that Gilmore may have waived his constitutional rights without fully understanding them, that his defense lawyers were inadequate, and that Utah's capital punishment law may be unconstitutional. Justice White duly turned the petition over to the full court. The next day the court voted 6 to 3 to stay the execution for one day so that Utah state authorities can provide more information. That demand is very likely to require several further delays.
So, for a time, the execution was called off.
In the dingy foyer of the Utah State Prison, Gilmore's aunt, Ida Damico, and her daughter, Brenda Nicol, maintain a sort of vigil. They say, though, that if they had been on Gilmore's jury, they would have voted to convict.
"The Indians had the right idea," says Brenda, a cocktail waitress in Orem. "When a rapist was caught, he got tied down and everyone was invited to throw stones. You better believe the other young bucks got the right idea. Poor GaryI love him even though he is a murderer. Gary says the only way to atone for the dead is to give your own life. He's prepared and so are we."
The family has already discussed the division of Gilmore's worldly possessions, including parts of his body. One of Brenda's children hopes to get Gilmore's pituitary gland. "I wish I could get his brain, "Aunt Ida says with a smile. "I always wanted to go to college."