First death row inmate to be executed in South Carolina in a decade chooses to die by firing squad

The first death row inmate to be executed in South Carolina in more than a decade chose to die by firing squad rather than the electric chair.

Richard Moore, 57, is to be put to death April 29 for the 1999 murder of a Spartanburg County store clerk in a robbery gone wrong.

After being given his execution date by the Supreme Court last month, Moore was forced to make the impossible decision between the two methods of execution.

South Carolina has not executed an inmate for nearly 11 years as state officials struggled to get their hands on the lethal injections used in the procedure.

This is due both to a shortage of the deadly drug cocktail and the fact that South Carolina is not among 14 states with laws that protect pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits if their products are used in executions.

In order to resume executions, the state last year took the controversial step of passing a law making the electric chair the default method and reinstating the use of firing squads.

Last month, the state corrections agency finalized new protocols and completed $53,600 in renovations to its death chamber.

Now prisoners have a choice between the two options.

Moore is now set to become the first South Carolina inmate to die by firing squad and only the fourth executed using the method across the entire United States since 1973.

In a written statement Friday, the black man who has spent the past two decades on death row said both options were unconstitutional but he was forced to make a choice by April 15.

“I believe this election forces me to choose between two unconstitutional methods of execution, and I do not intend to waive any challenges to electrocution or the firing squad by making an election,” he said. he declared.

The firing squad process involves three prison volunteers shooting the death row inmate with guns while the inmate wears a hood over his head and a target over his heart.

The introduction of the method and the resumption of executions by the state sparked outrage from death penalty abolition groups and human rights activists.

Even among death penalty supporters, there are also pointed questions about whether Moore should be on death row in the first place.

The black man has spent the past 21 years on death row after being convicted in 2001 of the murder of James Mahoney.

In the early hours of September 16, 1999, Moore walked into Nikki’s Speedy Mart convenience store in Spartanburg where Mr. Mahoney worked as a store clerk.

Moore intended to rob the store for money to pay for his drug use, and a fight broke out between the two men.

Moore was unarmed when he entered the store.

During the struggle between the two men, the store clerk pulled out a gun and Moore snatched it away from him.

Mr. Mahoney then drew a second gun and shot Moore in the arm.

Moore returned fire, fatally shooting Mr Mahoney in the chest.

Moore admitted to killing the store worker, but has long maintained he acted in self-defense.

He was originally given a 2020 execution date, but this was postponed because prison officials were unable to access the lethal injection.

Moore has exhausted nearly all of his legal options and will be put to death in two weeks unless a court intervenes.

His attorneys filed an appeal in South Carolina Circuit Court on Thursday, arguing that the state’s 2021 law enforcement amendment violated the state’s constitution.

Lawyers for four state death row inmates have filed a lawsuit arguing that the two methods now available violate the law prohibiting cruel, corporal and unusual punishment, while questioning the extent to which authorities have attempted to access lethal injection drugs.

A judge ruled on Thursday that the trial could go ahead.

Moore’s legal team also asked the South Carolina Supreme Court to delay his execution so the US Supreme Court could hear his case arguing that the black man’s sentence was harsher than that inflicted on persons who have committed similar crimes.

Last week, the state Supreme Court denied a similar appeal.

South Carolina is one of nine states that still use the electric chair and one of only four that use the firing squad, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Since 1973, three people have been executed by firing squad across the United States.

The independent and the non-profit association Responsible Business for Justice Initiative (RBIJ) launched a joint campaign calling for an end to the death penalty in the United States. The RBIJ has attracted over 150 well-known signatories to its Statement of Business Leaders Against the Death Penalty – with The Independent as the latest on the list. We join high profile leaders like Ariana Huffington, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson in this initiative and pledge to highlight the injustices of the death penalty in our coverage. .

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