How South Carolina execution firing squad works: EXPLAINER

COLOMBIA, SC – It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

But the issuance of Moore’s death warrant, originally scheduled for April 29, has rekindled interest in how a state is launching its plans to shoot a prisoner to death. The method is used in only a few states and has not been used in the US for more than a decade.

South Carolina just passed the executive order last year, giving convicts the choice between electric shock and the inability to supply lethal injectable drugs.

When selecting the executive branch, Moore, 57, said he did not admit that any method was legal or constitutional, but that he strongly opposed the death by electric shock and chose only the passage because he had to make a choice.

Moore was sentenced to death for the 1999 murder of grocery store employee James Mahoney in Spartanburg. Planning to rob the store for money to support the cocaine habit, investigators said Mahoney pulled out a gun, which Moore was able to fight and use to shoot the employee.

Another detainee, Brad Sigmon, has been set to be executed on May 13, although a state judge is considering his legal argument that both the electric shock and the execution squad are “barbaric” methods of murder.

Only three executions in the United States have taken place since 1976, according to the Washington-based nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center. Moore’s would be the first since Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed in 2010 by a five-man executive squad in Utah.


South Carolina – once one of the busiest death chambers in the country – has been unable to carry out any executions since 2011, an inadvertent pause attributed by officials to the state’s inability to procure the drugs needed to carry out a death warrant. lethal injection. The convicts had the choice between injection and electric shock, which means that choosing the former would essentially leave the state incapable of executing the sentence.

For several years, lawmakers thought of adding the executive extract as an option to approved methods, but the debate never went ahead. Last year, Democratic Sen. Dick Harpootlian and GOP Sen. Greg Hembree, who previously served as prosecutors, again argued in favor of adding the executive branch option.

“The death penalty will remain the law here for a while. If it is going to stay, it must be humane,” Harpootlian said, adding that the execution squad provided a more humane alternative to electric shock if executions continued in the ruling state. the GOP.

The measure, signed by Republican Gov. Henry McMaster last May, made South Carolina the fourth state in the country to allow the use of a shotgun, according to the Washington-based nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center.


Since the bill was passed, the South Carolina Department of Corrections has worked to modernize its existing death cell in Columbia – where executions by lethal injection and electric shock have been going on for more than 30 years – to meet the needs of an executor.

The service spent $ 53,600 on state funding for renovations, including the placement of bullet-proof glass between the death chamber and witnesses, as well as a metal chair to which the inmate would be tied. They also cut the brick wall of the cabin to create an opening through which the three snipers – all volunteer Correctional Officers – would pass their weapons, all loaded with real ammunition.

The opening is 15 feet from the convicts, located in a corner of the room, according to a note released last month by the prison service. While the inmate will be visible to witnesses, officials said the shooters and their weapons will not.

The electric chair, which officials say cannot be removed from the cabin, will be covered in place between the glass wall and the executive extractor chair.

After an opportunity to make a final statement, the detainee will be tied to a chair and a hood will be placed over his head. A member of the execution team will place a “small target point” above the detainee’s heart.

After the warden read the execution order, officials said the group would fire. The agency has not specified what caliber rifles the snipers will use, nor details of the “certain qualifications” they must have met.


In addition to state officials in the execution chamber, three media witnesses may be present at the execution, as well as three witnesses from the victim’s family, according to the Correctional Department.

State law also allows religious and legal counsel for the detainee, as well as representatives from law enforcement and local prosecutors.


As is typical with all executions in South Carolina, a doctor will examine the detainee and make a death statement. A photo released by Corrections officials shows a metal basin with lips under the detainee’s chair, as well as a rectangular box just behind it, possibly absorbing the shots.

Immediately after, the witnesses will be led from the room and will be taken to the building of the Prison, where other media will gather.

Away from the eyes of witnesses, the detainee’s body was removed from the ward and transported to the Richland County Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy before being returned to the detainee’s family.

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

How South Carolina execution firing squad works: EXPLAINER Source link How South Carolina execution firing squad works: EXPLAINER

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