File photo

An inmate on South Carolina’s death row since 2002 who is suing the state over a new death penalty law has been issued an execution notice from the S.C. Supreme Court. The execution should be carried out on June 18.

“By law, the execution date is set four Fridays after the execution order is received,” said Chrysti Shain, director of communications for the state Department of Corrections spokesman said today.

Earlier this month, Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law a measure that set the electric chair as the default mode of execution for those on death row, although inmates can choose death by firing squad.

At present, only electrocution is available as the state is developing the policies and procedures to create a firing squad, Shain said, adding, “This is a very serious thing and we want to make sure we are doing it properly and constitutionally.”

The new law unlocked stalled executions because in the earlier law, death row inmates had to pick between electrocution and lethal injection. But because the lethal injection drugs are not available and inmates chose that alternative, executions ground to a halt for a decade. The new measure sets electrocution as the default, with the firing squad as the alternative. 

On Thursday, the high court issued the execution notice, the first since 2011, that directed the S.C. Department of Corrections to execute 63-year-old Brad Sigmon, who was found guilty by a jury in 2002 of killing two people in Greenville County by beating them with a baseball bat, according to published reports.  

Sigmon’s attorneys are challenging the new law by saying it wasn’t in place when he was convicted and the old law had lethal injection as the default execution method.  

Currently, 37 inmates in the S.C. Department of Corrections have been sentenced to death. The last execution by lethal injection was in 2011; the last electrocution execution was three years earlier, according to the department.