Attorneys argue death sentence for Spartanburg man convicted of murder ‘disproportionate’

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- The South Carolina Supreme Court is considering whether a death sentence given to a man convicted of killing a gas station clerk in Spartanburg in 1999 should stand.

Attorneys for Richard Moore, the man convicted of murder, said the punishment isn’t proportional to the crime. The state argues Moore’s death sentence should stand.

In 1999 Richard Moore shot and killed James Mahoney, a convenience store clerk in Spartanburg, and robbed the store. The state says Moore also tried to kill a witness.

South Carolina Supreme Court Justice George James questioned Moore’s attorney Whitney Harrison at the hearing today.

“He stood over Mr. Mahoney’s dead body when he professed to be scared instead of leaving the store when he didn’t see Mr. Mahoney anymore, he walked behind the counter, and he did what?” Justice James said. “He took the money, $1,400,” Harrison replied. “And to do that he had to step over a dead body, correct?…and why is that not in the category of perhaps being pretty doggone bad?” James asked.

Court records show Moore didn’t enter the store with a gun. According to media reports, Moore wrestled a gun from Mahoney that the clerk produced. Attorneys for Moore argue that the state should compare his case not just to other death sentence cases, but similar cases that didn’t end in a death sentence.

“There simply aren’t any other death sentences resulting from facts like this where someone entered into a confrontation unarmed really without any awareness that harm could be committed,” said Moore’s attorney Lindsey Vann.

Senior South Carolina Assistant General Ed Salter said the court has already found Moore’s sentence to be proportionate.

“The synopsis of facts in the court’s opinion supports that conclusion that he has not offered anything that should cause the court to revisit the assessment in his case,” Salter said.

Moore’s daughter said he was a good father, and she dosen’t think anyone should have the right to determine whether another person lives or dies.

“He has a granddaughter who he has not been able to hold,” Alex Moore said. “She recognizes his voice by how often he calls. She heard him on the phone. She calls him PawPaw. And it’ll be hard to have to explain to her when she’s older why she never got to eet her grandfather the entire…all these proceedings that have gone down to his potential death if that were to happen.”

The Attorney’s General Office declined to comment on a matter before the court.

7News was unable to get in touch with the family of the victim, James Mahoney.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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