Columbia, SC – The first man scheduled for execution in the state of South Carolina in more than 10 years has chosen to die by firing squad.
A law went into effect in South Carolina in 2021 that made death by electrocution the default method of death but gave condemned prisoners the option to face three prison employees with rifles in lieu of the electric chair, the Associated Press reported.
The change in the law was prompted by a more-than-a-decade long pause in executions in the state because of the shortage of drugs needed to perform lethal injections.
Richard Moore, 57, is scheduled for execution on April 29, the Associated Press reported.
Moore has been on death row for more than 20 years after he was convicted of the 1999 murder of convenience store clerk James Mahoney in Spartanburg.
Prosecutors said Moore was looking for money to buy cocaine when he got into an argument with the store clerk, the Associated Press reported.
Mahoney pulled out a gun but Moore wrestled it away from him.
The store clerk pulled out a second gun and a gun fight ensued, the Associated Press reported.
Mahoney shot Moore in the arm and Moore shot Mahoney in the chest.
Moore tried to claim that he had shot the store clerk in self-defense and his supporters have claimed that his crime didn’t rise to the level of a death-penalty offense, according to the Associated Press.
His appeals attorneys have argued that since he didn’t bring a gun to the store, Moore hadn’t planned to kill anyone.
Police said that Moore left a blood trail through the store as he searched for cash after he shot Mahoney, the Associated Press reported.
Investigators determined that Moore stepped over his dying victim twice as he committed the robbery.
A judge gave the death row prisoner until Friday to decide how he wanted to die, the Associated Press reported.
Moore chose a firing squad on April 15 for his execution at the end of the month.
In March, the state finished updating the execution chamber to accommodate a firing squad, the Associated Press reported.
The state corrections agency said had completed a $53,600 renovation on the death chamber in Columbia.
A metal chair with restraints, facing a wall with a rectangular opening 15 feet away, was installed, according to the Associated Press.
Protocol calls for three volunteer prison staff members to point their rifles at the condemned prisoner’s heart.
South Carolina is only one of four states that permits execution by firing squad, the Associated Press reported.
The Death Penalty Information Center said it is only one of eight states that is still using an electric chair.
Lawyers for Moore have asked the South Carolina Supreme Court to consider if either electrocution or a firing squad constituted “cruel and unusual punishment,” the Associated Press reported.
Moore’s attorneys have argued that the state hasn’t tried hard enough to obtain lethal injection drugs.
Lawyers argued that the state was trying to force death row inmates to choose between more barbaric methods of execution, the Associated Press reported.
Defense attorneys also wanted the state Supreme Court justices to review whether Moore had received a disproportionate sentence for his crime in comparison to other defendants.
Justices denied a similar appeal on that issue last week, according to the Associated Press.
Moore released a statement on April 15 that said he thought both methods of death were unconstitutional.
However, the condemned man said in the statement that he was more opposed to electrocution than death by firing squad, the Associated Press reported.
“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,” Moore said in the statement.