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Federal judge asked to halt 2 South Carolina electrocutions

South Carolina last executed a condemned inmate in the electric chair in 2008.
South Carolina last executed a condemned inmate in the electric chair in 2008.(WIS/File)
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 1:41 PM EDT
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FLORENCE, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - A federal judge in South Carolina is considering a bid to block the upcoming electrocutions of two prisoners under the state’s recently revised capital punishment law.

U.S. District Judge Bryan Harwell heard arguments Wednesday on whether he should halt the executions of Brad Sigmon and Freddie Owens later this month.

Earlier this month, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law a bill forcing inmates to choose death by firing squad or electric chair, if lethal injection drugs aren’t available.

Attorneys for the men say the state hasn’t exhausted all avenues to obtain lethal injection drugs.

A lawsuit filed by attorneys for both Owens and Sigmon earlier this month argue they can’t be electrocuted or shot because he was sentenced under an old law that made lethal injection the default execution method.

The new law forces inmates to choose to die by electrocution or gunshot if lethal injection drugs aren’t available, but prison officials haven’t yet put together a firing squad.

A state judge denied a similar request to stop the executions earlier this week.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.