South Carolina Court Halts Firing Squad Execution


Photo: South Carolina Department of Corrections

The South Carolina Supreme Court on Wednesday (April 20) issued a temporary stay, halting the execution of 57-year-old Richard Bernard Moore who was scheduled to be the first person in the state to be executed by firing squad next week.

Moore's attorneys filed the request earlier this month in order to have time to appeal his conviction at the US Supreme Court, Lindsay Vann, one of Moore's lawyers, told CNN last week. On April 6, the state Supreme Court denied an appeal that Moore's sentence was not congruent to similar cases in the state.

Moore was convicted and sentenced to death for the September 1999 murder of James Mahoney, a convenience store clerk in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Moore's execution was originally scheduled for April 29.

Moore chose to be executed by firing squad as opposed to the electric chair, a court filing last week states. He did not have the option of lethal injection because the state has not had the drugs used in the death penalty procedure since 2013, the state Department of Corrections previously told CNN.

In a statement, Moore said that while he was choosing to die by firing squad, he was hopeful about two additional court challenges in his case.

"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's statement reads in part. "I more strongly oppose death by electrocution," he wrote.

Moore would be the first person executed in the state of South Carolina in more than a decade. The state currently has 35 people on death row, CNN reported.

South Carolina is one of four states in the US where death by firing squad is legal. Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah also allow the practice.

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