South Carolina firing squad execution
This photo provided by the South Carolina Dept. of Corrections shows the state’s death chamber in Columbia, S.C., including the electric chair, right, and a firing squad chair, left. The agency renovated its capital punishment facility to include a metal chair with restraints facing a wall with a rectangular opening several feet away after South Carolina lawmakers added the firing squad to the state’s execution methods in 2021. (South Carolina Dept. of Corrections via AP)
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By Michelle Liu, AP

A South Carolina prisoner scheduled to be the first man executed in the state in more than a decade has decided to die by firing squad rather than in the electric chair later this month, according to court documents filed Friday.

Richard Bernard Moore, 57, is the also first state prisoner to face the choice of execution methods after a law went into effect last year making electrocution the default and giving inmates the option to face three prison workers with rifles instead.

Moore has spent more than two decades on death row after being convicted of the 1999 killing of convenience store clerk James Mahoney in Spartanburg. If executed as scheduled on April 29, he would be the first person put to death in the state since 2011 and the fourth in the country to die by firing squad in nearly half a century.

The new law was prompted by the decade-long break, which corrections officials attribute to an inability to procure the drugs needed to carry out lethal injections.

In a written statement, Moore said he didn’t concede that either method was legal or constitutional, but that he more strongly opposed death by electrocution and only chose the firing squad because he was required to make a choice.

“I believe this election is forcing me to choose between two unconstitutional methods of execution, and I do not intend to waive any challenges to electrocution or firing squad by making an election,” Moore said in the statement.

Richard Moore firing squad south carolina
This photo provided by South Carolina Dept. of Corrections shows Richard Moore. Moore, scheduled for execution later this month has chosen to die by firing squad rather than in the electric chair. (South Carolina Dept. of Corrections via AP)

Moore’s attorneys have asked the state Supreme Court to delay his death while another court determines if either available method is cruel and unusual punishment. The attorneys argue prisons officials aren’t trying hard enough to get the lethal injection drugs, instead forcing prisoners to choose between two more barbaric methods.

His lawyers are also asking the state Supreme Court to delay the execution so the U.S. Supreme Court can review whether his death sentence was a disproportionate punishment compared with similar crimes. The state justices denied a similar appeal last week.

South Carolina is one of eight states to still use the electric chair and one of four to allow a firing squad, according to the Washington-based nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center.

Only three executions in the United States have been carried out by firing squad since 1976, according to the nonprofit. Moore’s would mark the first since Ronnie Lee Gardner’s 2010 execution by a five-person firing squad in Utah.

South Carolina’s corrections agency said last month that it finished developing protocols for firing squad executions and completed $53,600 in renovations on the death chamber in Columbia, installing a metal chair with restraints that faces a wall with a rectangular opening 15 feet (4.6 meters) away. In the case of a firing squad execution, three volunteer prison workers will train their rifles on the condemned prisoner’s heart.

Moore is one of 35 men on South Carolina’s death row. The state last scheduled an execution for Moore in 2020, which was then delayed after prison officials said they couldn’t obtain lethal injection drugs.

Corrections Department Director Bryan Stirling reiterated in an affidavit last week that the agency still couldn’t obtain the drugs because manufacturers and compounding pharmacies contacted by the state refused to help.

During Moore’s 2001 trial, prosecutors said Moore entered the store looking for money to support his cocaine habit 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.

Moore’s supporters have argued that his crime doesn’t rise to the level of a death penalty offense. His appeals lawyers have said that because Moore didn’t bring a gun into store, he couldn’t have intended to kill someone when he walked in.

The last person executed in South Carolina was Jeffrey Motts, who was on death row for strangling a cellmate while serving a life sentence for another murder.

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  1. The dirt bag was convicted of fatally shooting a store clerk. Put him in front of the firing squad – NO blindfold – let him see it coming.

    • 150 years ago, justice was quick and cheap in many outlying regions of America. The locals didn’t have to contend with Wokeness and 30 years of labyrinthine appeals processes.

      • If it were me, I’d have chosen a nitrogen chamber if offered. Best way. Fill the chamber with nitrogen. Drift off to sleep, painlessly. No gory firing squad. No blood splattering, guts, brains, flesh. No seizures and electrical burns and burning heads and brain matter. Nope. None of that at all.

        • Use the same gas chamber.

          Just have a sink with a drain to inside the chamber, and pour in liquid nitrogen. It will rapidly boil off to a gas, and 30 seconds later, the convicted passes out. 10 min later, dead…

    • Let’s see… three .30 M1 Carbine (110-grain Soft Points) at 5 yards should bring the exercise to a swift close. I want this to be quick and as clean as possible. (Plenty of cotton gauze to soak up the blood would seem to be in order).

      Works for me!

  2. Shit, that gives the State less than two weeks to locate at least three rounds of rifle ammunition. He’s probably betting that they won’t be successful and South Carolina DoC will be forced to let him walk.

  3. Strongly believe the perp should have chosen his execution method by the method in which he killed his victim. Death by method of victim death, as closely as possible to recreate. His body, his choice.

    • “Go big or go home!”

      “Seven point six two full metal jacket.

      Go big or go home!”


      In that case, .50 BMG HEI, or Raufoss :

      • Might need a bigger drain in the floor of that execution chamber, tho… 😉

        • They’r aiming for the heart, with those calibers just going to be a bunch of blood shot meat.

  4. In this day and age why still need people holding the rifles and pulling the trigger? Would figure the rifles would all be mounted and a string pull all the triggers at once. Or a bunch of tubes using compressed air to fire ball bearings at 1,000 fps. A single civil war cannon firing an 8 pound ball maybe? Let’s get streamlined and creative!

    • That could be seen as unusual and potentially cruel depending on how creative one got. I see the value in sticking with precedent here.

      • Leftist Scum would *love* to automate death, since they hate getting their precious cubical-dwelling only hands dirty…

    • A captive bolt pistol to the brain stem would be fast, efficient, and relatively clean.
      Inert gas asphyxiation is slower, but cleaner and supposedly painless.

      • Back of the head is ideal, the bullet is faster than the sound of the ‘click’, so there’s no anxiety.

        I think the condemned should be allowed a bottle of Jack as a last meal, anyways… 🙂

        • I wonder if a person could get drunk if you was hours away from being killed?
          I mean you might be able to walk but I wonder if you’d feel drunk.

        • Screw this guy.
          I don’t suppose his victim was offered a bottle of Jack before he got capped.

          This nation needs to step up its execution game. We have too many brick and mortar inmates sitting in jail cells, getting fat and sassy on state meal trays and costing us an absolute Fortune.

          Take the money that you would be spending on maintaining these turds, and put it into education and prevention so others don’t occupy a jail cell in the future.

    • I think firing squad would be quicker, and I’d probably choose that. I will never murder anyone ,so hopefully I never get put in that position.

  5. Guys, you’re forgetting the guys that have to do this. This is not a DGU. It’s an execution. That has to be the very worst kind of work. Not saying the guy doesn’t deserve to die for his crimes, but damn.

      • I could and sleep just fine. This is no different that putting down a chicken killing dog and I’ve had to do that more than once in my life. My biggest problem with it. is the fact that it wasn’t done 23 years ago when the scumbag was found guilty. 23 years of wasted tax dollars, better spent on more positive societal needs.

    • Someone has to push the button on the injection machine or the chair too. I think I would be more mentally prepared to execute someone than I am to have to defend myself during a random unexpected attack.

      • Dev, I don’t know how many times had to point a firearm at a man, a handgun most times. I didn’t have time to think for very long. I just found my pistol in my hand. That was mostly training. Knowing I had to get out of bed in the morning and kill a man. I guess I could do it, but I wouldn’t like it for even a second.

    • it says they’re volunteers. i’ll bet no shortage of applicants exists. unexpected residual haunting flashbacks? maybe.
      i say phone book and .50ae.

    • This Good Friday, let us remember the perfect Lord Jesus Christ who willingly bore the penalty for sinful man. Then, three days later, He rose from the dead. Someday, He will return to rescue those who trust Him, and execute justice on His foes.

  6. None of us gets to enter the world on our own terms…he is departing this world on his terms (as limited as his choices are). More choices than he gave the clerk.

    Agree with CC. The rifles are pre-aimed at a specific point, the prisoner is sited at that point, the Warden presses a Shot Timer button and a (short) random number of seconds later the computer triggers the solenoids hooked to the triggers…BANG…Justice / Retribution / Vengance is served. No need to burden three volunteers with the guilt feelings of taking out the garbage.

    • Why should they feel guilty? Please elucidate. I, for one, wouldn’t lose much sleep over such a task. (Any more than I would be shooting a rabid dog).

      • You clearly have not drawn down on another person or have shot someone with the intent to cause death. Outside of exigent circumstances, it is difficult for most normal people to rationalize taking a life…even when that life has been duly adjudicated as forfeit. Few people can pull the trigger on someone who is not actively, immediately attempting to harm them, a partner or an innocent third-party…our social mores have steered us away from that course for generations.

        • On the contrary, I was working as an Armed Security Officer and have aimed a handgun in preparation to kill another human being. While the circumstances were exigent in nature, I would not have hesitated to kill an aggressor.
          This individual has given up his life by his actions.

          For him, I have no pity.

    • THAT would probably be a great deterrent.
      Maybe not for spur of the moment killings, but for pre-meditated murderers.

  7. Old Montana, I disagree. The crime was committed by a man. Justice, on this Earth, was handed down by man. It should be carried out by man. And it should be personal. His crime was to someone. He can face his God after that.

    • @Gadsden Flag


      I think that your interpretation of what I wrote is not the intent of what I was trying to convey.

      I said that this convicted murderer was given more choices regarding his departure than he gave his victim so many years ago (poorly attempted sarcasm).

      I suggested that the execution be initiated by a man…the chief representative of the penal facility where the condemned prisoner is scheduled for execution. With the position of Warden goes the responsibility of carrying out a State execution order…not a “volunteer”.

      I used the combination of words – Justice / Retribution / Vengeance – because, depending on your personal viewpoint, when mentioning the death penalty one of those words usually fits (they are not interchangeable).

      I feel that my comment was in line with your earlier comment regarding the stress on the volunteers.

      I did not mention G_d at all in my comment.

  8. “The attorneys argue prisons officials aren’t trying hard enough to get the lethal injection drugs, instead forcing prisoners to choose between two more barbaric methods…”

    First, let’s acknowledge that these lawyers will never find a method to be ‘acceptable’ and they’re not arguing in good faith. They’d be the same ones trying to shut down lethal injection.

    More importantly, what on earth does “barbaric” mean and why does it matter? If the goal is to prevent suffering they could wire him up with a hat made of C4. Or, perhaps better, adopt the measures that some other countries have where the accused does NOT spend decades waiting for his day of execution- once appeals are up it’s your day. No having to wait with the dagger over your head forever. Or even the Soviet method- one day as you’re being walked back to the cell you take a right instead of a left, go in a room you haven’t been in before and barely have time to register what’s happening before the pistol round turns off the lights.

    If I had to pick, I’d probably go with inert gas. It’s got a lot of advantages for everyone. No real medical trappings (no needles and no ethics concerns with medical personnel like with lethal injection), no additional cleanup and very little danger compared to its closest method, the gas chamber. If we want a ‘clean’ looking death (which is what injection wanted to be), it’s the way to go. I don’t see any point to making the death painful. Guy is going to die anyway and it’s not a deterrent. No one thinks “well, I was going to rob that bank and risk the death penalty if something goes wrong but now I won’t because it might hurt.”

    If I had to choose between conventional methods for myself, however, I would probably go for the most ‘barbaric’ ones first. One clean cut to the head from a blade? Sounds pretty good compared to having to wait for some wanna-be IV tech stabbing me for two hours because they can’t find a vein to pump poison into me. Four rounds of .30-06 to the heart? I’ll take that over being cooked for a few minutes. Hanging? Well, okay, but only if the drop is long enough. I don’t care if the spectators have to see my head pop off but I’d rather not have it too short and slowly strangle over an hour.

    “barbaric” seems to be taken to mean “bloodless” and causes a lot more suffering than it pretends to avoid.

    • That is the point they are making: that capital punishment is in and of itself “barbaric” based on current community standards and morals. If a quick death were the goal, which it is not, then the guillotine would not have been deemed barbaric in France; death is not instantaneous, since the brain still has to use up it available oxygen, but it is painless and over in thirty seconds or less. The same is true for a firing squad or a mace to the back of the skull. Injections are (usually) painless and bloodless, but not instantaneous, and sellers of medications are opposed to providing execution drugs (for purely political reasons). The Russian method of a .22 or .380 to the back of the skull is extremely effective and relatively bloodless, death is almost instantaneous. Chines perform executions similarly (but not as unexpectedly to the prisoner). So the only real issue these days is whether death is disproportionate to the crime, or where there are reasons for imposing a less severe penalty (mental illness, juveniles, victims of child abuse, mental incapacity, etc.).

      • “So the only real issue these days is whether death is disproportionate to the crime…”

        Most anti death penalty folks have far take far different issue with the death penalty that disproportionality. Things like morals, ethics, the proper role of government, if government can be trusted, finality, rights, the whole undermining of rule of law/theory of self defense etc.

      • There is nothing wrong with the state killing people when it needs to be done. Police officers, representatives of the state, kill people. They kill the innocent and the guilty all the time. And they’re almost never prosecuted for killing the innocent. In Oregon I believe they have no death penalty. But the state kills people none the less. Besides their police officers who kill people. They also have assisted suicide. So the state kills people there too.

        The anti-death penalty crowd needs to get their story straight. I believe these people are frauds, Liars, and hypocrites. They should support disarming the police as I do. And issue the police nightsticks with the training to use them. And the state can get out of the business of assisted suicide.

      • btw
        Not all of them but many in the anti-death-penalty crowd, the Libertarians, Liberals, and the Left. Are also supporters of killing unborn children. Killed by the state.

    • Hannibal,

      I am surprised that no one has thought of a much simpler, cleaner, and highly effective method: inject the death-row prisoner with a high dose of opioids of some variety. Heck, just go to the local drug dealer on the corner and buy some fentanyl which is reportedly an extremely lethal substance even in minuscule quantities.

  9. Up to 1972 it was found that over 200 innocent people had been wrongly executed for crimes they never committed. The toll has risen since then. The U.S. is the only industrialized country that still has the death penalty. Most nations realize that its way too big a chance to take when you start executing people and they may be innocent.

    The U.S. is the most savage, violent and barbaric industrialized country on the planet. It’s lack of sane gun laws prove that life is considered cheap and expendable as on average 38,000 people a year are gunned down in this barbaric country.

    The U.S. even cares nothing about the lives of its own children as on average 1,300 children are gunned down every year and almost 4,000 crippled for life. To the ruthless, uncivilized Republicans, “losses can never be too high”.

    To quote Herr Drumpf who used the name “shit hole countries: when describing African countries when he pointed his index finger at them he also had 3 more of his fingers pointed right back at his own country which is the shit hole country of the Industrialized world, but this was way over the Morons head.

    I might add Capitalvania’s lack of affordable health care causes the deaths on average of over 150,000 citizens a year, but again life is considered cheap and expendable in barbaric Capitalvania.


  11. On the plus side, this Mahoney buffoon was removed from the gene pool too.

    Worst case, the species gets a twofer here.

    • Uhmmmm, what?

      All I found on that incident was this “1999 Upstate store robbery ends in one dead

      On Sept. 16, 1999, Moore entered Nikki’s Speedy Mart in Spartanburg County, unarmed, intending to make the clerk hand over money to buy cocaine.

      But after the clerk, James Mahoney, pulled a gun, the two scuffled and the gun fired, killing Mahoney. Moore, who had gained control of the gun, fired a shot at a bystander but missed. Leaving the crime scene, Moore was involved in a traffic accident. A police officer arrived, and Moore got out of his truck, lay down on the road, and said, “I did it.””

      Where’s the buffon-level action here by Mahoney?

      “Inquiring minds want to know.”…

      • In this story it said:

        During Moore’s 2001 trial, prosecutors said Moore entered the store looking for money to support his cocaine habit 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.

        The victim in this case draws a gun on the BG, loses it to the BG, draws a second, pops the BG in the arm and takes one to the chest.

        It’s a rare talent to lose two gunfights at once, one of which you’re the only one with a gun and the other you lose to your own gun.

        • I don’t tend to get my morals or ethics from statute because government is mostly populated by unethical people who make their own misdeeds legal while accusing you of whatever is convenient and making that illegal.

          But hey, you do you. I’m sure the government will come tuck you in at night if you ask. They’re just that nice.

  12. Interesting they’re only using 3 rifles. If I remember correctly 1 rifle is loaded with a blank. Hence, only 2 rifles will be doing the deed. I wonder if the rifles will be locked into a brace to eliminate a last minute (second) squad member throwing their shot. I can’t imagine the squad to aim and fire offhand.

    • “I can’t imagine the squad to aim and fire offhand.”

      If the muzzles come through an opening (or openings), a one-way mirror at eye level on the other side of the wall sounds logical.

      No need for the traditional executioner’s black hood, so to speak.

      The condemned are free to request a hood of their own, if they prefer…

  13. The attorney argues since he did not enter the store with a gun he did not have intent to kill.

    Breaking down what lead to the incident, his entering the store with intent to steal/rob, he is responsible for every action that occurs during the incident. Period.

    I have reservation about the death penalty, there must be clear cut guilt that the person did in fact commit the crime. Even then the bar must set be so high it is an extraordinary action to receive the death penalty. No one has argued he did not commit the crime, he does not deny it. The bar is met here.

  14. This execution should be televised and preempt all scheduled broadcasts. It might be an object lesson that crime does NOT pay. These actions should not be done in a secret and in an almost antiseptic manner. I also agreed that the victims Family should (if desired) have an active part in the execution.

  15. If the Gas Chamber is an option:

    1. Use the aforementioned Nitrogen,
    2. Nitrous Oxide (NO2), or
    3. Carbon Monoxide.

    Death would come easy, and the gas could be vented without much damage to the environment.

    • With Nitrogen, *zero* environmental damage.

      If they want the condemned to suffer for the camera, use liquid carbon dioxide (LCO2) as the execution agent.

      As it flashes to a gas, that will trigger a frantic thrashing and gasping action until unconsciousness.

      The family of the victim should be allowed the choice of the asphyxiation agent, as far as I’m concerned. Bleeding heart Leftist Scum get what they want, a painless execution, and the family can watch them struggle and pointlessly fight for the life draining out of them, if they prefer.

      Either way, death in roughly the same amount of time.

      Equity in sentencing, so to speak… 🙂

      • Hate to tell you this, but “nitrogen pollution” is a thing according to the greenies.

        There’s nothing they won’t find to complain about. Even if you debunked their pollution claim they’d still fall back on the energy required to compress the gas being “dirty”.

    • “Guillotine works for me.”

      So does drawing-and-quartering, stoning, and being burnt at the stake, for that matter.

      Distressing optics of the effects of capitation and the blood loss inherent with that mode of execution.

      (To be clear, I have *zero* issues with that, but someone’s precious feelings might be hurt. And feelings are the most important thing, and trump everything else, according to some… 😉 )

    • As an anesthesiologist I can tell you that some people can take unbelievable amounts of fentanyl.
      You’re also still locked into the medical procedure of starting an intravenous line and making sure it works.
      Usually muscle relaxants to stop the breathing and potassium to stop the heart are added to the mix after the prisoner is rendered unconscious.
      And fentanyl may not produce unconsciousness much less death in opioid tolerant people.
      As others have suggested, It is a million times easier to fill the gas chamber with an inert gas like nitrogen which will produce a completely painless death in 2 to 3 minutes.
      Completely foolproof as long as the room is properly sealed

  16. What is wrong with the death penalty (besides executing innocent people) is that the death penalty is often arbitrary. Here is indeed an absolutely outrageous use of the death penalty. Even a 5th grader can understand that this should not have resulted in so heinous a penalty.

    • Unless it was YOUR relative of course. In that event, your position would undoubtedly change although I’m moderately certain you’d lie about that being the case.

      It certainly necessitates little linguistic ability to churn out unintelligent comments that serve your deprived existence but you go girl! I do enjoy an ever so slight chuckle at your feeble attempts at literary endeavors.

    • Would you like some cheese with that whine? I’d be willing to help pay for a one-way fare to North Korea, China, Venezuela, Haiti, or Cuba as long as you promise to remain in-country.

      Go, and quit draining the lives and liberties of civilized people that refuse to pander to these murderous cretins.

      Thank you.

  17. That’s mighty white of them to include that sloped drip pan under the firing squad death chair to catch the ….goo and drips and other parts. Gosh, easy clean up with a wet/dry shop vac and some Spic and Span® and they can go home to a nice fat steak!

      • Pb_fan59:
        Most of these miscreants used a lot of drugs and alcohol during their lives (consider George Floyd’s drug habits).
        They were likely “hashed out” long before they arrived in prison.
        This isn’t a good proposition.


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