Wednesday, December 07, 2022

South Carolina prisoner chooses firing squad over electric chair

COLOMBIA, SC ( Associated Press) — A South Carolina inmate to be executed in more than a decade in the state became the first person to be executed in the state by firing instead of an electric chair later this month, according to court documents filed Friday. Decided to die from the squad.

Richard Bernard Moore, 57, is the first state inmate to face a choice of execution methods after a law came into force last year that makes electrocution the default and gives prisoners the option of confronting three prison personnel with rifles.

Moore has spent more than two decades on the death row after being convicted of the 1999 murder of convenience store clerk James Mahoney in Spartanburg. If hanged as scheduled on April 29, he will be the first person killed in the state since 2011 and the fourth person in the country to be killed by firing squad in nearly half a century.

The new law was prompted by a decades-long lag that corrections officials attribute to an inability to procure the drugs needed to administer the lethal injection.

In a written statement, Moore said he did not believe either method was legal or constitutional, but that he opposed death by electric shock and chose firing squad only because he needed to make a choice.

Moore said in the statement, “I believe this choice is forcing me to choose between two unconstitutional methods of execution, and I do not intend to challenge either electrocution or firing squad by making the choice.” “

Moore’s lawyers have asked the state’s Supreme Court to delay his death while another court determines whether the available method is cruel and unusual punishment. Lawyers argue that prison officials are not doing enough to obtain lethal injection drugs, instead forcing prisoners to choose between two more barbaric methods.

His lawyers are also asking the state Supreme Court to delay the execution so that the US Supreme Court can review whether his death sentence was a higher sentence than similar crimes. State judges denied a similar appeal last week.

South Carolina is one of eight states that still use the electric chair and one of four to allow firing squads, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington-based nonprofit.

According to the nonprofit, there have been only three executions by firing squad in the United States since 1976. Moore would mark the first since the 2010 execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner by a five-man firing squad in Utah.

South Carolina’s Corrections Agency said last month that it had finished developing protocols for firing squad executions and completed $53,600 in renovations on the death hall in Columbia, which installed a metal chair with a rectangular opening. with a wall that is 15 feet (4.6 m) away. In the case of firing squad executions, three volunteer prison staff will train their rifles on the condemned prisoner’s heart.

Moore is one of 35 men on South Carolina death row. The state last scheduled an execution in 2020 for Moore, who was then told by prison officials that he could not receive lethal injection drugs.

During Moore’s 2001 trial, prosecutors said that Moore entered the store looking for money to support his cocaine habit and had an altercation with Mahoney, who pulled a pistol that Moore gave away from him. .

Mahoney drew a second gun, and a gunfight ensued. Mahoney shot Moore in the arm, and Moore shot Mahoney in the chest. Prosecutors said Moore left a trail of blood through the store as he looked for cash when he stepped on Mahoney twice.

At the time, Moore claimed that he acted in self-defense after Mahoney pulled the first gun.

Moore’s supporters have argued that his crime does not rise to the level of the death penalty. His appeals attorneys have said that since Moore did not bring a gun into the store, he may not have intended to kill anyone when he entered.

The last person executed in South Carolina was Jeffrey Motts, who was on death row for strangling a cellmate while serving a life sentence for another murder.


Liu is a core member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on issues covered.

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