Since adding new firing squad updates to its death chambers, South Carolina has scheduled its first execution in over ten years.
Richard Bernard Moore is a 57-year-old man convicted in 2001 of killing convenience store clerk James Mahoney.
He has spent over two decades on death row. Now, he is set to die on April 29. The last execution was by lethal injection.
A statement from the South Carolina Department of Corrections said, “By law, Moore will be asked to choose his method of execution 14 days before execution day. Methods available are the electric chair and firing squad.”
The South Carolina Department of Corrections announced renovations to its capital punishment facility to accommodate the firing squad method were complete.
The statement said, “The death chamber has been renovated to accommodate a firing squad. The chamber now includes a chair in which inmates will sit if they choose execution by firing squad…Bullet-resistant glass has been installed between the witness room and death chamber. The firing squad chair is metal with restraints and is surrounded by protective equipment.”
Describing the process, the statement read, “Three firing squad members will be behind the wall, with rifles facing the inmate through the opening. The rifles and open portal will not be visible from the witness room. All three rifles will be loaded with live ammunition. The inmate will be strapped into the chair, and a hood will be placed over his head. A small aim point will be placed over his heart by a member of the execution team. After the warden reads the execution order, the team will fire.”
Moore’s lawyers asked the South Carolina Supreme Court to halt his execution. They argue his crime doesn’t meet the intention of other death penalty cases in the state.
Associate Justice Kaye Hearn wrote, “The death penalty should be reserved for those who commit the most heinous crimes in our society, and I do not believe Moore’s crimes rise to that level.”
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill last year that makes the electric chair the state’s primary means of execution in the state. However, prisoners can choose between other options, such as death by firing squad or lethal injection.
In 2020, Moore’s execution was postponed after the state could retrieve lethal injection drugs.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston says forcing Moore to choose between the firing squad and electric chair is “modern-day barbarism.”