South Carolina inmate chooses death by firing squad instead of electric chair

A man who had been sentenced to death has chosen to die by firing squad instead of the electric chair when his sentence is carried out later this month.

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Richard Bernard Moore, 57, will be the first prisoner to be able to decide how he would be executed after a law went into effect last year that made the electric chair the default method but gave prisoners the option to select a firing squad, manned by three prison workers armed with rifles, The Associated Press reported.

Moore has been on death row since he was convicted of the 1999 killing of a convenience store clerk, the AP reported.

Prosecutors said Moore went to the store trying to get money to support a drug habit. He got into a fight with the clerk, who pulled out a gun. Moore wrestled the weapon away from the clerk, but the store employee pulled out a second gun and shot Moore in the arm. Moore then shot the clerk in the chest before he looked through the store for cash, leaving a trail of blood behind, prosecutors said, according to WLTX.

Moore said he shot the clerk in self-defense since the other man pulled out a gun first, WLTX reported.

Moore’s supporters said the crime should not be a death penalty case. His attorneys said that because he didn’t bring a gun to the store, he didn’t intend to kill anyone.

If he is put to death as scheduled on April 29, his death will be the first execution in South Carolina since 2011.

The change came after corrections officials said they had difficulty getting the drugs used for lethal injection executions. Moore’s attorney has asked that his execution be delayed as another court determines if the electric chair or the firing squad is a cruel or unusual punishment. His attorneys say the prison is not doing enough to get the drugs and that the prison is forcing prisoners to choose between two barbaric methods, the AP reported.

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Moore’s attorneys are also asking the state supreme court to delay the execution so the U.S. Supreme Court can determine if his sentence is disproportionate compared to similar crimes. A state judge recently denied that appeal.

South Carolina is one of eight states that still use an electric chair for executions, and one of four that allow firing squads, WLTX reported.

There are 35 men currently on death row in South Carolina.