South Carolina has scheduled its first execution of a death row inmate since completing the firing squad chamber.
The state’s Department of Corrections told the Attorney General’s office in March that the chamber is now ready for use.
Richard Moore, 57, is scheduled to be executed on April 29 for the slaying of James Mahoney, a convenience store clerk, during a robbery in 1999.
Executions in the state have been halted for the last decade due to difficulty obtaining the drugs used for lethal injections, leaving the 35 death row inmates in limbo.
Last year, South Carolina made the electric chair their primary method for carrying out the death penalty, but said that they would give inmates an option to choose death by firing squad or lethal injection instead, provided that those options were available.
However, due to a shortage of the drugs used for lethal injections, that option has not been available and executions were paused for the last decade.
Lawyers representing Moore are asking that his execution be delayed until a court can determine if his options for execution methods amount to “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Unless the court intervenes, he has until Friday to choose between the electric chair or the firing squad.
“In the case of a firing squad execution, three volunteer shooters — all Corrections Department employees — will have rifles loaded with live ammunition, with their weapons trained on the inmate’s heart. A hood will be placed over the head of the inmate, who will be given the opportunity to make a last statement,” WCAX reports.
Eight states currently use electric chairs and just four permit death by firing squad.
Utah is the only state that has carried out a firing squad execution in the last four decades.
The Greenville News noted, “unlike Utah, which uses a five-member firing squad, South Carolina will have three law-enforcement officers in its firing squad, and all three will have live rounds, while in Utah at least one rifle fires non-lethal bullets.”
Moore exhausted his appeals in 2020, with his most recent attempt denied by the State Supreme Court this week. He was scheduled to be executed in 2020, but it was delayed when the Department of Corrections could not obtain lethal injection drugs.