SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – This month, South Carolina will execute an inmate for the first time in more than a decade.
Richard Moore was sentenced to death in 2001. In 1999, officials said Moore went into a Spartanburg convenience store, looking for money. They said he got into a gun fight and ended up killing the store clerk, James Mahoney.
The 57-year-old was convicted of murder, assault with intent to kill, armed robbery and a firearms violation. He’s been on death row for more than two decades.
Attorney John Reckenbeil, who has experience in death penalty cases, said the delay is to ensure they’re not putting an innocent person to death.
“There has been that sort of delay, because we’ve been, basically, in an evolution of the death penalty,” he said.
“There’s automatic appeals in a death penalty case that challenge every single thing that a trial lawyer does and then it goes all the way to the US Supreme Court,” said Reckenbeil.
Now, with the appeals nearly exhausted, the South Carolina Department of Corrections received an Order of Execution on April 7.
Moore will choose between the electric chair or a firing squad, just created by the State Legislature.
Meanwhile, some civil rights groups continue their efforts to change the law and end the death penalty.
“It’s easy for us to really detach ourselves from executions, and from the death penalty, but I think an important thing is to really realize these are people,” said Meredith Matthew with human rights group South Carolinians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
“The question has always been whether or not this person deserves to die, but I think we really need to address the face whether South Carolina has the right, or has deserved the right, and earned the right to take someone’s life,” she said.
Reckenbeil said these last couple of weeks will be filled with emergency appeals.
“That’s where these lawyers are 24/7 trying to look at any sort of technicality,” he said.
If the appeals fail, Moore’s last chance to avoid the death penalty is clemency from the governor.
“They have direct communication right to the death chambers,” said Reckenbeil.
Moore is set to be executed on April 29. He will be asked to choose his method on April 15.
Moore is asking the South Carolina Supreme Court to halt his execution. Lawyers said the court should decide if it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.