A prison in South Carolina is set to execute its first death row inmate in 11 years, now giving inmates the option to pick death by firing squad after corrections spent $53,600 on renovations.
The execution of Richard Bernard Moore, 57, was initially scheduled for November 2020, but his execution was deferred by the South Carolina Supreme Court after prison officials couldn’t obtain lethal injection drugs.
Moore had his execution rescheduled to April 29 by the state’s Supreme Court on Thursday, and he could become the state’s first death by firing squad. He is sentenced to death for fatally shooting convenience store clerk James Mahoney during an armed robbery in 1999.
During Moore’s 2001 trial, prosecutors said he entered the store looking for money to support his cocaine addiction and got into a dispute with Mahoney, who drew a pistol that Moore wrestled away from him.
Mahoney pulled a second gun, and a gunfight ensued. Mahoney shot Moore in the arm, and Moore shot Mahoney in the chest. Prosecutors said Moore left a trail of blood through the store as he looked for cash, stepping twice over Mahoney.
At the time, Moore claimed that he acted in self-defense after Mahoney drew the first gun.
State Sen. Dick Harpootlian, a Democrat, argued that death by firing squad presents “the least painful” execution method available.
“The death penalty is going to stay the law here for a while,” Harpootlian said. “If we’re going to have it, it ought to be humane.”
To date, there are 37 inmates on death row in the state. The last person executed in South Carolina was Jeffrey Motts, who died by lethal injection in May 2011. Motts was sentenced to death after murdering his cellmate while already serving a life sentence for fatally shooting two elderly people during a robbery.