SC Supreme Court halts executions until state implements firing squad

State News

FILE – This March 2019, file photo, provided by the South Carolina Department of Corrections shows the state’s electric chair in Columbia, S.C. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law last week a bill that would essentially restart the state’s stalled death penalty after a lack of lethal injection drugs has delayed several executions. The new law would let condemned inmates choose between the electric chair or a newly formed firing squad. (Kinard Lisbon/South Carolina Department of Corrections via AP, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – The South Carolina Supreme Court has ordered two upcoming executions to be halted while the state develops policies and procedures for a firing squad.

Brad Sigmon was scheduled to be executed Friday while Freddie Owens was scheduled to be executed a week later.

According to the order from the state Supreme Court, the executions cannot continue until inmates are allowed to choose a manner of their execution.

READ FULL SUPREME COURT ORDERS: Brad Sigmon | Freddie Owens

At this time, the only available method of execution is electrocution.

“Under these circumstances, in which electrocution is the only method of execution available, and due to the statutory right of inmates to elect the manner of their execution, we vacate the execution notice,” the Supreme Court order stated.

In a statement, the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) said they were working on policies and procedures for a firing squad.

Full statement from the SCDC:

“We have received the order from the S.C. Supreme Court halting the upcoming executions. The department is moving ahead with creating policies and procedures for a firing squad. We are looking to other states for guidance through this process. We will notify the court when a firing squad becomes an option for executions.”

South Carolina Department of Corrections

The deaths of Sigmon and Owens were scheduled less than a month after the passage of a new law compelling the condemned to choose between electrocution or a firing squad in the event lethal injection drugs aren’t available.

The statute is aimed at restarting executions after an involuntary 10-year pause that the state attributes to an inability to procure the drugs.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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