According to court documents filed Friday, a South Carolina inmate is set to be the state’s first execution in more than a decade has made the decision to die by firing squad instead of the electric chair later this month.
Richard Bernard Moore, 57, is the first state prisoner to face a choice of execution methods following the implementation of a law last year that made electrocution the default method and gave inmates the alternative of facing three prison workers with rifles instead.
Moore has been on death row for more than two decades after being found guilty of the 1999 slaying of Spartanburg convenience store employee James Mahoney.
If he is executed as scheduled on April 29, he will be the first person executed in the state since 2011 and the 4th person in the nation to be executed by firing squad in nearly half a century.
According to the center, South Carolina is one of eight states that still use the electric chair and one of four that allow a firing squad.
Moore stated in a written declaration that he did not concede that either method was legal or constitutional, but that he was more deeply opposed to death by electrical shock and only chose the firing squad because he was compelled to.
“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.
The state’s new law was prompted by a decade-long halt in executions, which officials blame on a lack of lethal injection drugs.
They asked the state Supreme Court to postpone Moore’s execution until another court determines whether either option is cruel and unusual. Criminal defense lawyers claim prison officials are not doing enough to obtain lethal injection drugs, leaving prisoners to choose between two more uncivilized methods.
His counsel are also asking the state Supreme Court to postpone his execution so the US Supreme Court can review his sentence of death. Last week, a similar appeal was denied.