South Carolina is set to execute a death-row inmate by firing squad or electrocution later this month.
Barring a successful appeal to the Supreme Court, the state will put Richard Bernard Moore to death April 29 for the 1999 murder of a convenience store worker.
Moore, 57, would become the first person executed by South Carolina since 2011, the last year officials were reliably able to obtain a three-drug cocktail for lethal injections.
South Carolina lawmakers this year reauthorized firing squads as a method in addition to the electric chair after its highest court blocked the execution of prisoners who had no option besides electrocution.
Moore’s lawyers are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to delay the execution, arguing cruel and unusual punishment, after the state’s highest court denied a similar argument Wednesday.
“The electric chair and the firing squad are antiquated, barbaric methods of execution that virtually all American jurisdictions have left behind,” Moore’s lawyer Lindsey Vann wrote in court papers filed Friday.
Moore is supposed to choose one of two methods at least 14 days before his scheduled execution.
His legal team is also arguing that the state has not proven it is making an effort to find the legal, and apparently less painful, lethal injection drugs.
The South Carolina Department of Corrections last month completed a $50,000 project to equip a new death chamber for firing squad executions and created a new execution protocol.
Under the guidelines, a hooded prisoner will be strapped into a metal chair and given an opportunity to give a final statement before a target is placed over their heart. Three volunteer shooters, all prison workers, will fire at the heart from a rectangular opening 15 feet away.
Moore has spent more than two decades on death row after he was convicted in 2001 of killing convenience store clerk James Mahoney in Spartanburg.
His supporters said his crime did not rise to the level of a death penalty offense because he did not bring a gun into the store and did not intend to kill anyone until the store clerk pulled a gun on him.
Moore planned to rob the store for money to support his cocaine habit and Mahoney pulled a gun which Moore was able to wrestle away, investigators said.
Mahoney pulled a second gun and the men fired at each other. Mahoney shot Moore in the arm, and Moore shot Mahoney in the chest. Prosecutors said Moore left a trail of blood through the store as he looked for cash, stepping twice over Mahoney.