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USA: Death row inmate chooses execution by firing squad

April 16th, 2022
Richard Barnard Moore, 57, is scheduled to be executed on April 29th.
(SC Department of Corrections)

(CNN) — A man sentenced to death in South Carolina has chosen to be executed by firing squad rather than the electric chair, which would make him the first death row inmate to die by firing squad in the state.

Richard Bernard Moore, 57, would also be the first person executed in South Carolina in more than a decade, as the state has struggled to procure the drugs required to perform lethal injection.

Moore, who was sentenced to death for the 1999 murder of a convenience store clerk, is set to be executed on April 29.

In a court filing Friday, Moore chose to die by firing squad but added in a statement he will not lose hope in two pending court challenges to the constitutionality of the state’s death penalty methods.

“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 in the statement.

He did not have the option of choosing lethal injection, as South Carolina does not have the necessary drugs, according to the filing. The department previously told CNN the state has not been in possession of a usable dose of lethal injection drugs since 2013.

Lindsey Vann, one of Moore’s attorneys, told CNN Friday they have asked the state Supreme Court to put the execution on hold in order to give them time to appeal his conviction to the US Supreme Court.

Last year, the South Carolina legislature passed a law which made electrocution the state’s primary execution method, though death row prisoners have the option to choose a firing squad or lethal injection instead if the options are available.

On April 6, the South Carolina Supreme Court denied an appeal by Moore which argued his death sentence was disproportionate to penalties imposed in similar cases.

Moore’s attorneys previously filed for a stay of his execution in 2020, arguing the state was trying to carry out his execution under a “veil of secrecy midst a global pandemic” and pointing to other states who have delayed executions due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was denied.

South Carolina is one of four states, including Oklahoma, Mississippi and Utah, allowing executions by firing squad.

Executions in South Carolina were halted last June until the state could create a protocol for how it would carry out firing squad executions.

Last month, the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) announced it can now perform executions by firing squad after it “renovated” its capital punishment facility, allowing execution in the state to resume.

The SCDC detailed its new protocols in a news release, noting the facility had installed a metal chair for the person being executed and bullet-resistant glass in the witness room.

During the execution, three firing squad members will stand in an opening in the death chamber’s wall, facing the person being executed, the corrections department explained in the release.

Once escorted into the chamber, the inmate will have the opportunity to make a final statement before being strapped to the chair and having a hood placed over their head, according to the protocol.

After a small “aim point” is placed over the person’s heart, the firing squad — which will not be visible to witnesses — will fire.

SCDC says the firing squad members will be volunteer SCDC employees who “must meet certain qualifications.”

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