Federal judge asked to halt 2 South Carolina electrocutions

FLORENCE, S.C. (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.

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

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.

The South Carolina Supreme Court set Sigmon’s execution for June 18 after prison officials indicated the state’s electric chair is ready for use. He’s been on death row since his 2002 conviction in a double murder. Owens, who has been on and off death row since 1999 for the killing of a convenience store clerk, is slated to die a week later, on June 25.

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