South Carolina man sentenced to execution by electric chair or firing squad for 2001 murder

State law dictates that Moore will have to decide the method by which he will be killed

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A South Carolina man has been scheduled to die by electric chair or firing squad almost 23 years after he was convicted of murdering a convenience store clerk during a robbery.

Richard Bernard Moore, 57, received notice from the state Supreme Court that his execution will occur on Friday, 29 April. Further appeals could delay that date.

South Carolina state law requires Moore to decide between the electric chair or firing squad two weeks before he is scheduled to die.

The Post and Courier reports that the notice came a day after a filing by Moore’s attorney to overturn the execution as excessive was denied by the state’s justices.

Whitney Harrison, Moore’s attorney, argued that his sentencing was disproportionately severe when compared to other sentences for individuals whose robberies ended in a death.

Moore was originally sentenced to death in 2001 after he was convicted on charges of murder, assault with intent to kill, armed robbery and a firearms violation.

He admitted to robbing the store, but said he killed the clerk in self defence after the man pulled a gun on him.

His defense attorney argued that he did not arrive at the store armed, but obtained a weapon in the midst of the robbery when he felt his life was in danger.

The justices ruling on the case rejected the argument, saying it was irrelevant.

“Whether Moore entered the store with a weapon or whether he armed himself once inside is not determinative of either his intent or the egregiousness of the offenses he ultimately committed,” the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice Don Beatty, said. “The significant fact is that Moore became armed at some point during the commission of the offenses.”

Justice Kaye Hearn agreed with the fact that Moore was guilty, but parted with her colleagues on the court when it came to the issue of his sentencing.

“Unquestionably, Moore is guilty,” she wrote. “I find the majority’s conclusion that Moore’s sentence is not disproportionate when compared to similar cases utterly unpersuasive. Consequently, Richard Moore will be put to death for a sentence that I do not believe is legal under our law.”

She claimed that the state’s system to reviewing sentences was “broken” after pointing out that no sentence has ever been overturned for being excessive in the state’s history.

“The state characterizes these statistics — currently, approximately zero for 77 — as proof that our capital sentencing scheme functions as it should,” she wrote, “I write separately to express my view that our system is broken.”

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