State Watch

South Carolina schedules first execution after transition to firing squads

Less than a month after South Carolina authorities said they were ready to carry out executions by firing squad after transitioning away from lethal injection, the state has scheduled its first execution.

The South Carolina Department of Corrections announced on Thursday that death row inmate Richard Moore, 57, is scheduled to be executed on April 29.

Moore, who was convicted in 2001 of armed robbery and the murder of a convenience store clerk in Spartanburg County in 1999, will have to choose within 14 days of his execution whether he wants to be executed by firing squad or electric chair.

On Thursday night, Moore’s attorney, Lindsey Vann, filed a motion in court asking them to “hold off on carrying out the execution,” according to GoUpstate.com. Vann has challenged Moore’s scheduled execution because he was sentenced to death before the firing squad or electric chair was allowed via a 2021 law.

Moore would be the first person executed in the state since 2011 after South Carolina paused executions following a halt of the use of lethal injection drugs, which the state has been unable to procure for legal use.

Last May, the state passed a law that codified execution by firing squad. Under the law, South Carolina’s primary means of execution is by the electric chair, but death by lethal injection and firing squad are options if they are available.

On March 18, the Department of Corrections said it was now “ready to carry out an order of execution by firing squad if the inmate chooses this method.”

The state spent $53,000 on renovating the death chamber at Capital Punishment Facility at Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia, which now includes a metal chair with restraints for inmates and bullet-resistant glass between the witness chamber and the death chamber.

During an execution, the state says three firing squad members will stand behind a wall and fit their rifles through an opening. An inmate, with a hood placed over their head, will be given one last opportunity to speak.

Three other states allow for death by firing squad: Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Moore’s scheduled execution follows a South Carolina Supreme Court decision on Wednesday upholding his death sentence, which the inmate had challenged.

One dissenting justice, Kaye Hearn, noted the inmate was Black. She wrote in her opinion that “Moore’s case highlights many of the pitfalls endemic to the death penalty, beginning with the role race plays.”

Tags Columbia death penalty Executions firing squad Firing squads South Carolina South Carolina Department of Corrections

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