South Carolina convict on death row chose firing squad — what led to this?

South Carolina convict on death row, scheduled to be executed later this month, chose to be executed by firing squad rather than an electric chair, according to court documents filed Friday.

Richard Bernard Moore, 57, spent more than 20 years in the state’s death row cell after being convicted of murdering a convenience store employee in 1999.The circuit judge set his execution date in 2002, but the prosecutor Said at that time They expected years of appeal.

Twenty years later, Moore is scheduled to be executed on April 29th. This is the first person to be sentenced to death in South Carolina since 2011. He chose to be executed by firing squad.

Why can SC prisoners choose how they die?

South Carolina law stipulates that prisoners must choose the method of execution 14 days before the execution date. A law passed by the state legislature in 2021 makes death from an electric chair the default method if a prisoner refuses to make a choice.

Moore was the first prisoner to choose how he was executed and was one of the 35 men on death row in the state. on friday, He wrote in a statement Submitted to the State Supreme Court, “I strongly oppose death from electrocution.”

Richard Moore

Richard Bernard Moore, a convict on death row in South Carolina, has chosen to be executed by a firing squad. (South Carolina Corrections Bureau via AP)

“We choose firing squad because the department says we have to choose between firing squad, electrocution, and firing squad,” Moore wrote.

Why not give a fatal injection?

Lethal injection is the most common form of execution in the United States and is used by 30 states and the federal government as the primary method. According to the data From the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), a non-profit organization based in Washington.

In addition to 1,363 lethal injections since 1976 (the year the Supreme Court confirmed that the death penalty was legal under certain circumstances), 163 prisoners were hanged and 11 died in gas chambers. Three were hanged and the other three were shot dead. team.

Lethal injections often include three drugs: pentobarbital, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. Pentobarbital puts the prisoner to sleep, and pancuronium bromide paralyzes the prisoner before potassium chloride finally stops the heart.

8 states Use one drug — Lethal dose of anesthetic — to execute a prisoner. In South Carolina, where deadly injections are allowed, this procedure uses three medications. However, the state has not been able to obtain the medicines it needs for years. According to Brian Sterling, director of corrections, manufacturers and pharmacies have refused to help, and the state legislature was urged to pass a new law last year to allow executions to begin. Also.

Death by firing squad

South Carolina has joined Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah to allow firing squad deaths. The state corrections bureau last month executed three volunteer prison workers using a method of hooding and tying a prisoner to a metal chair before firing a rifle into the prisoner’s heart. He said he had completed the development of an appropriate protocol for.

Moore’s death marks the fourth firing squad in the United States following the 2010 execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner. Gardner, who was on death row in Utah for the 1984 lawyer’s murder, was tied to a chair in a prison room. According to witnesses, a black hood was placed on his head and a small target was placed on his heart before he was executed by a firing squad of five.

2017, Supreme Court Deputy Judge Sonia Sotomayor Insisted That is, “in addition to dying almost instantly, death from shooting may be relatively painless.”

A 110-year-old electric chair with wooden headrests and orange restraints in a plain brick room with a small table and a plastic-lined trash can.

This March 2019 photo shows a 110-year-old electric chair used by South Carolina for executions. (Kinard Lisbon / South Carolina Corrections Bureau via AP)

Other methods for comparison Execution often fails: DPIC estimates that between 1890 and 2010, 3% failed. Lethal injection resulted in at least 75 executions, and electrocution resulted in at least 84 executions. There were at least 276 executions in all, but none by firing squad.

In October 2021, John Marion Grant trembled and vomited after being executed in Oklahoma after being given a sedative. In 2018, Alabama attempted to execute Doyle Lee Ham, but workers could not find a suitable vein to inject the drug into his body. He eventually left 10 to 12 puncture marks. This includes “six inguinal regions and other traces of puncturing the bladder and penetrating the femoral artery.” He died of cancer four years later.

A “barbaric” way to die

Moore’s lawyer continues to sue for his death in both state and federal courts.

Lindsey Van, Executive Director of Justice 360, Moore’s lawyer, wrote in a court document filed this week:

She Said recently Electrocution and firing squad are “methods of execution that have replaced lethal injection, which was previously considered more humane.” The new state law “makes South Carolina the only state to return to inhumane executions,” she added.

Moore’s lawyer requested the Supreme Court to postpone his execution, and another court decided whether either electrocution or firing squad violated the state’s ban on cruel and unusual penalties. Lawyers claim that orthodontic authorities have not proved that they do not have access to the medicines needed for lethal injection instead.