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A South Carolina prisoner opts for execution by firing squad

The South Carolina Department of Justice said last month it spent about $53,000 renovate a death chamber in a prison on the outskirts of Columbia, installing bulletproof glass between the chamber and the witness room. A prison authority spokeswoman said prisoners who chose to join the firing squad were strapped to a chair and hooded. Three volunteer prison employees then fired guns at the person’s heart.

The agency undertook the renovations after the South Carolina legislature established electrocution as the new standard method of execution. The bill was sponsored by Republicans, but one of the lawmakers who proposed the firing squad alternative was State Senator Dick Harpootlian, a Democrat and former prosecutor who said he did it because he believed the electric chair was inhumane.

“I think the firing squad is much more instantaneous and less painful,” Mr Harpootlian said.

He said he supports the death penalty only in the most extreme cases and believes Mr Moore should not be put to death.

“I don’t think he fits into the ‘worst of the worst’ category,” Mr Harpootlian said. “If I were prosecuting the case, I would not have sought the death penalty.”

Mr. Moore had no gun when he entered Nikki’s Speedy Mart, a grocery store in Spartanburg County, SC, at about 3 a.m. on September 16, 1999. Mr. Moore shot him with a gun held by the store owner behind the counter kept. Mr. Moore, who was shot in the arm during the altercation, fled after snatching a bag containing money totaling about $1,400. A jury convicted Mr. Moore in 2001 and recommended his execution.

Mr. Moore’s lawyers had previously asked the state Supreme Court to find that the death sentence in his case was extreme, noting that he entered the store without a gun and that there were conflicting claims as to what led to the dispute between the men had led. The court rejected that argument, though one judge, Kaye Hearn, expressed a strong dissent, saying the state’s system for reviewing death sentences was “broken” and that she believed Mr. Moore’s sentence was disproportionate to his crime.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/15/us/south-carolina-firing-squad-moore.html A South Carolina prisoner opts for execution by firing squad

Mike Fahey

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