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A South Carolina inmate has decided to have his execution carried out by firing squad after the state recently approved the method last month.
Richard Bernard Moore, 57, is scheduled to be the first man executed in the state in more than a decade and the fourth person to be killed by firing squad in the U.S. in half a century. Moore has spent more than 20 years on death row after he was convicted of murder for the 1999 killing of convenience store clerk James Mahoney.
In a statement filed Friday, Moore said “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.”
Richard Bernard Moore scheduled execution: Cruel and Unusual Punishment
The current default method of execution in South Carolina is death by electrocution, with inmates now having the option to choose death by a three-man firing squad.
A law passed in May 2021 gave inmates sentenced to death the option of choosing death by firing squad once the method became available.
The South Carolina Department of Corrections informed S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson that renovations to the state’s death chamber were completed last month to accommodate a firing squad.
According to a press release, the DOC spent about $53,600 to renovate the state’s death chamber. The Capital Punishment Facility at Broad River Correctional Institution houses the death chamber that holds the electric chair as well as the newly installed chair for the firing squad.
A lawsuit challenging South Carolina’s execution protocols was allowed to proceed by Circuit Judge Jocelyn Newman Thursday. The lawsuit claims that dying by gunshot or electrocution would be cruel and unusual punishment, and that prison officials have shown little proof they can’t get the drugs needed to carry out lethal injections instead.
Moore’s attorneys have asked the state Supreme Court to delay his death while another court determines if either available method is cruel and unusual punishment.
Firing Squad Protocols
The death chamber has been renovated and now includes a chair in which inmates will sit if they choose execution by firing squad. The chair is in a corner of the room away from the current electric chair, which cannot be moved.
Bullet-resistant glass has been installed between the witness room and death chamber. The chair faces a wall with a rectangular opening 15 feet away.
Three members will be behind the wall, with rifles facing the inmate through the opening. The inmate will be given the opportunity to make a last statement before a hood is placed over their head.
A small aim point will then be placed over their heart by a member of the execution team.
After members of the firing squad, made up of volunteers of SCDC employees, fire their shot, a doctor will examine the inmate and declare them dead.
Currently only four states still use death by firing squad, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Utah.