South Carolina Inmate Chooses to Be Executed by Firing Squad

Richard Moore will be the first South Carolina inmate to be executed in more than a decade. The 57-year-old's execution is scheduled for April 29.

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A South Carolina inmate chose to be killed by firing squad in the state’s first execution in more than a decade.

According to the Associated Press, 57-year-old Richard Moore confirmed his decision in court documents filed Friday, just two weeks before he’s scheduled execution. The inmate was convicted of murdering convenience store clerk James Mahoney in 1999, and has been on South Carolina’s death row ever since.

Moore’s decision came a week after the court ordered him to select the method of his execution. In 2021, South Carolina passed a law that gave death row inmates the option of being killed by electrocution, lethal injections, or a three-man firing squad. The state had postponed its scheduled executions because the electric chair was the only available method at the time.

Officials previously claimed they could not obtain the drugs needed to carry out lethal injections, while its death chambers were not equipped to facilitate death by firing squad. However, that all changed last month, when South Carolina announced it had completed renovations at its capital punishment facility, effectively giving prisoners the option to be killed by a three-man firing squad or the electric chair. 

“I believe this election is forcing me to choose between two unconstitutional methods of execution,” Moore said in the statement, “and I do not intend to waive any challenges to electrocution or firing squad by making an election.”

Moore’s legal team argues state officials have not made a strong enough effort to procure the lethal injection drugs, and have asked the state supreme court to delay his death while a lower court decides whether the available methods are considered cruel and unusual punishment. 

The last U.S. inmate to be killed by firing squad was Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, there are currently eight states that still use the electric chair, and only four that permit firing-squad executions. 

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