Attorneys for the two men say they can’t be electrocuted or shot since they were sentenced under a prior law that made lethal injection the default execution method.
Sigmon and Owens are also seeking to block their scheduled deaths by electrocution in federal court, where they argue electrocution is cruel and inhumane and that state officials aren’t trying hard enough to obtain lethal injection drugs. A court hearing on that challenge is set for Wednesday.
Three men, including Sigmon and Owens, have run out of traditional appeals in recent months, leaving the state Supreme Court to set and then stay execution plans after the corrections agency said it didn’t have lethal injection drugs.
The South Carolina Supreme Court reset Sigmon’s execution for June 18 after prison officials indicated the state’s electric chair was ready for use. The court scheduled Owens to die a week later, on June 25.
Sigmon, 63, was convicted in 2002 of killing his ex-girlfriend’s parents with a baseball bat in Greenville County.
Owens, 43, was first sentenced to death in 1999 for the shooting murder two years earlier of a convenience store clerk during an armed robbery, also in Greenville County. He changed his legal name to Khalil Divine Black Sun Allah in 2015, according to court filings.
South Carolina is one of eight states to still use the electric chair and four to allow a firing squad, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Prison officials have not indicated a timeline for when the firing squad would be up and running, though they have said they are researching how other states operate their squads.
South Carolina’s last execution took place in 2011, and its batch of lethal injection drugs expired two years later. There are 37 prisoners on death row in South Carolina, all of them men.