US NEWS South Carolina Supreme Court temporarily halts firing squad execution

South Carolina Supreme Court temporarily halts firing squad execution

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The South Carolina Supreme Court has temporarily halted what is slated to be the state’s first execution by firing squad.

The temporary stay, issued Wednesday by the state’s highest court, delays the death of Richard Moore, who was scheduled to be executed on April 29. He was sentenced to death more than 20 years ago for the 1999 murder of James Mahoney, a convenience store clerk in Spartanburg.

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With South Carolina lacking the necessary drugs to carry out lethal injections, Moore earlier this month was forced to choose between death by electric chair and firing squad. He selected the latter, but noted he was still holding out hope in a pair of pending court challenges to the constitutionality of the state’s death penalty.

In a written statement, Moore said that he was forced to make a decision by a deadline set by state law and still found both options unconstitutional.

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Richard Bernard Moore (South Carolina Dept. of Corrections)

Moore’s lawyers also wanted additional time to request the US Supreme Court review whether his sentence is proportionate to his crime.

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A change to South Carolina’s capital punishment law last year made the electric chair the state’s primary means of execution while giving prisoners the option of choosing death by firing squad or lethal injection, if those methods are available. The legislative tweak was made in an effort to end the state’s 10-year pause on executions, caused directly by the lack of lethal injection drugs.

The state’s last batch expired in 2013, with efforts to contact manufacturers and compounding pharmacies unsuccessful, Corrections Department officials have repeatedly said.

South Carolina is one of four states – Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah are the others – where execution by firing squad is legal. The last person to be die by the method in the US was Ronnie Lee Gardner in Utah in 2010. All three firing squad executions in the US since 1967 have occurred in Utah.

With News Wire Services

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