A South Carolina prisoner scheduled to be the first man executed by the state in 10 years has decided to die by firing squad over the electric chair.
According to court documents, 57-year-old Richard Bernard Moore is the first state prisoner given a choice of execution methods after the state passed a law declaring the electric chair the default procedure last year. ABC News reported that inmates are now given the option to face three prison workers with rifles.
News Onyx previously reported that Moore spent the past two decades on death row following the 1999 killing of a convenience store clerk, James Mahoney, in Spartanburg. His execution is scheduled for April 29, marking him the first person to be put to death in the state since 2011 and the fourth in the country to die by firing squad in nearly half a century.
The South Carolina Department of Corrections provided a statement regarding Moore’s execution later this month.
“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 statement read.
The state agency announced its renovations to the capital punishment facility, assuring the firing squad method was 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.”
The execution process described the following statement, “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.”
According to a report from the Death Penalty Information Center, only three executions in the United States have been carried out by firing squad since 1976. Moore will be the first since Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed in 2010 by a five-person firing squad in Utah. The Washington-based non-profit provides reports and data regarding the death penalty nationwide.
South Carolina is one of eight states to use the electric chair as its primary execution method and one of four to use a firing squad.
Moore issued a written statement explaining why he chose to die by firing squad over the electric chair.
“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.
Moore’s attorneys have addressed their concerns with the Supreme Court, asking to delay his execution while another court rules whether either method is considered cruel and unconstitutional punishment.
The state’s last execution was by lethal injection in 2011, when Jeffrey Motts was executed for strangling a cellmate while serving a life sentence for another murder.
Since then, they’ve argued that the state hasn’t tried hard enough to obtain lethal injection drugs. So instead, they’re forcing inmates to choose between two “barbaric methods.”
Moore’s execution was postponed in 2020 after the state ran out of lethal injection drugs to carry out the execution.