First death row inmate to face execution in South Carolina in a decade chooses to die by firing squad

The first death row inmate to face execution in South Carolina in more than a decade has chosen to die by firing squad rather than the electric chair.

Richard Moore, 57, is scheduled to be put to death on April 29 for the 1999 murder of a store clerk in Spartanburg County during 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 in almost 11 years as state officials have struggled to get their hands on lethal injections used in the procedure.

This is because of both a shortage of the lethal drug cocktail and because South Carolina is not among the 14 states with laws that protect drug companies from being sued if their products are used in executions.

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

Now, inmates are given the choice between the two options.

Moore is now set to become the first inmate in South Carolina to die by firing squad and only the fourth executed using the method across the whole of the US since 1973.

In a written statement on Friday, the Black man who has spent the last two decades on death row, said both options are unconstitutional but he had been forced to make a choice by 15 April.

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

The firing squad process involves three prison-volunteers shooting at the death row inmate with rifles as the inmate wears a hood over their head and a target over their heart.

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

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

The Black man has spent the last 21 years on death row after he was convicted in 2001 of the murder of James Mahoney.

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

Moore intended to rob the store for cash to pay for his drug habit and a fight broke out between the two men.

Moore was unarmed when he entered the store while the store clerk had a gun.

During the struggle between the two men, Mr Mahoney shot Moore in the arm.

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

Moore has admitted to killing the store clerk but has long maintained that he acted in self defence.

The Black man has exhausted all of his appeals against his execution and will be put to death in two weeks’ time unless a court intervenes.

On Thursday, his attorneys launched an appeal in South Carolina Circuit Court arguing that the state’s 2021 change in execution laws was a violation of the state’s constitution.

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

Since 1973, three people have been executed by firing squad.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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