SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA)- South Carolina’s first execution in nearly a decade has been put on pause after state corrections officials say they don’t have the drugs needed for a lethal injection.
Richard Moore was sentenced to death for the killing of gas station clerk James Mahoney at Nikki’s Speedy Mart in Spartanburg in 1999.
A witness reportedly told investigators it was a gas station robbery gone wrong. Defense attorneys said it began with an argument.
Moore has now exhausted the appeals process. Earlier this month, the South Carolina Supreme Court sent an execution notice ordering Moore to be put to death by lethal injection on December 4, but the Department of Corrections wasn’t, and isn’t, able to do that.
“We’ve been trying for the better part of this last decade to get the drugs, and have been unsuccessful,” said Bryan Stirling, who is the director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections.
Stirling said one of the drugs in a lethal cocktail used for executions in the state expired right before he became director in 2013.
“I asked our folks to start calling around to see if they could secure the drugs,” he said. “They were unsuccessful.”
He said that’s because drug companies don’t want to be associated with the death penalty, so they’re not selling their products to states like South Carolina. Monday, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued a stay, halting the execution until the Department of Corrections can perform the execution as required by law.
Stirling has proposed implementing a “shield law” in the state so that the names of companies that do sell drugs used in executions aren’t publialy released.
“All I can say is that other states that have that shield law have been successful in getting the drugs,” Stirling said.
Stirling’s efforts have been unsuccessful so far. He said the department is going to continue to try to obtain drugs for lethal injection.
“We’re going to continue to try because that’s our duty, and that’s our duty under the law to carry out a lawful sentence and a lawful order of the court,” he said.
Stirling believes Moore will not be executed until lawmakers change policy to shield drug manufacturers or allow for the electric chair to be used when lethal injection drugs aren’t available.
An attorney for Moore declined to do an interview Tuesday.
Stirling said the state could soon be in this position again as more death row inmates move through the appeals process.