South Carolina Inmate Slated for Execution Has Option of Firing Squad

South Carolina Inmate Slated for Execution Has Option of Firing Squad Richard Moore South Carolina death row inmate Richard Moore. (Carolina Department of Corrections via AP)

By Jason Clemons | Friday, 08 April 2022 02:20 PM

South Carolina issued an execution order involving a prisoner for the first time in 11 years Thursday — a sentence which could lead to the state's first death by firing squad.

On Thursday, the state's Department of Corrections announced that death row inmate Richard Moore, 57, would be slated for execution on April 29.

Back in 2001, Moore was convicted of a 1999 armed robbery and murder of a convenience-store clerk in Spartanburg County. In the wake of Thursday's announcement, Moore will now have 14 days to choose whether he wants to be executed by electric chair or firing squad.

According to The Hill, Moore will be South Carolina's first execution since 2011, when the state paused executions "following a halt of the use of lethal injections drugs," which South Carolina had temporarily lost the legal means to implement.

In May 2021, South Carolina passed a law that codified execution by firing squad. Within this ruling, the state's primary means for handling executions would transition to the electric chair.

However, death row inmates also have the option of accepting lethal injection of firing squad, when available.

On March 18, the Department of Corrections said it was now "ready to carry out an order of execution by firing squad, if the inmate chooses this method."

According to the U.S. Death Penalty Information Center, three other states allow for death by firing squad: Utah, Oklahoma, and Mississippi.

Ronnie Lee Gardner was the last U.S. inmate executed by firing squad, in Utah in 2010.

South Carolina officials reportedly spent $53,000 on renovating the death chamber at Capital Punishment Facility at Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia — the state's capital city — which now includes a metal chair, complete with restraints for inmates, and bullet-resistant glass between the witness chamber and the death chamber.

For executions, three firing-squad members reportedly stand behind a wall and fit their rifles through an opening. On the other side of the wall, the inmate — wearing a hood placed over their head — will be granted one last opportunity to speak, prior to gunfire.

On Wednesday, the state Supreme Court upheld a decision on the death sentence of Moore, an African-American male, a ruling the inmate had previously contested.

One of the dissenting justices, Kaye Hearn, wrote in her opinion, "Moore's case highlights many of the pitfalls endemic to the death penalty, beginning with the role race plays."