COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WCBD) — A judge has ruled that a lawsuit brought by four death row inmates challenging South Carolina’s execution methods can move forward.
Circuit Judge Jocelyn Newman made the ruling Thursday.
Lawyers for the inmates asked Newman to closely examine prison officials’ claims that they can’t secure lethal injection drugs, leaving the electric chair and the firing squad as the only options for execution.
Lawyers for the state contend both methods are constitutional and the prisoners are stalling for time.
The decision comes a week after the state Supreme Court set an April 29 execution date for Richard Bernard Moore, who would be the first person put to death in the state in a decade.
Moore was convicted of shooting and killing James Mahoney, a store clerk at Nikki’s Speedy mart in Spartanburg, during an armed robbery in Sept. 1999. A witness at the trial testified that they saw Moore enter the store, then shot at them. The witness dropped to the floor and played dead. Mahoney was then shot in the chest.
Moore left the store and was later found with $1,408 from the store. The prosecution said during the trial that he had taken the money because he wanted to buy crack cocaine.
There was no evidence that Moore entered the store with a gun. In an application for post-conviction relief, Moore claimed that he received ineffective assistance of council at his trial, and that Mahoney was the aggressor, and that he’d taken the gun during a struggle with the clerk and fired “blindly.” Moore said that he was short on change that night, asked if he could use money from the change cup on the counter, and that Mahoney refused and pulled a gun when Moore refused to leave the business.
A judge found those claims were “without merit.” In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court denied his petition for review.