Death Row inmates to be given firing squad ‘choice’ after court ruling

Death Row inmates can now choose to die by firing squad rather than electric chair.

The bizarre choice comes after correctional bodies in South Carolina were told by the state's Supreme Court that prisoners should be given a choice in how they die.

The state passed giving prisoners the choice between the electric chair and a firing squad, if they could not be put to death by lethal injection, in a bid to restart executions.

It comes after the executions of two murderers were stayed after South Carolina's Supreme Court said that the state's Department of Corrections had only provided the electric chair option.

Drug companies restricted the supply of lethal drugs to several states because they don't want to be linked with the death penalty, writes The Times.

Now South Carolina has had to draft in a firing squad to give men waiting on death row a choice.

Brad Sigmon, 63, convicted of two murders in 2002, was supposed to have been executed this week and Freddie Owens, 43, convicted of murdering a convenience store worker in 1997 and confessed to the killing of a fellow inmate at his sentencing hearing, was due to die next week.

Chrysti Shain, a spokeswoman for the state's department of corrections, said some states introduced laws to shield the identity of lethal drug suppliers, but South Carolina had failed to.

"Our last execution was in 2011," she said. "November of 2020 was the next time we got a death order."

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The order, to execute Richard Moore, 56, convicted of killing a convenience store worker, was previously delayed because of a lack of lethal injection drugs. Subsequent orders were made for the execution of Sigmon and Owens.

Shain said: "We are working to create the policy and procedure that will govern the firing squad."

They would also have "to create a space, a chamber for it," she added. "We don't have a timeline but we are actively working to create that."

Sigmon, 63, was convicted of killing the parents of his ex-girlfriend with a baseball bat.

He has never denied it. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I am guilty," he said at his trial, at which his lawyer said he had a history of depression and drug abuse.

Campaigners against the death penalty who have corresponded with Sigmon said he was deeply remorseful and had sought to redeem himself while in prison.

Alli Sullivan, of Death Penalty Action, who spoke with Sigmon last weekend, wrote in a Facebook post he had expressed great fear at the prospect of the electric chair. He "doesn't know if (he) can get the horror out of (his) mind of being fried to death," she wrote.

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