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A death row prisoner due to be executed for murdering his ex-girlfriend's parents is terrified of dying in the electric chair, a supporter says.
Anti-death penalty campaigner Alli Sullivan said Brad Sigmon, 63, told her he couldn't erase the "horror" that South Carolina was "getting ready to fry me like a piece of bacon".
His wish to have a shot of whisky and two cigarettes as a "last meal" was turned down by the US state's Department of Corrections.
Sigmon was scheduled to die in a 109-year-old electric chair on Friday in what would have been South Carolina's first execution since 2011, but the state's Supreme Court gave him a last-minute reprieve.
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Brad Sigmon was sentenced to death for murdering the parents of his ex-girlfriend
(Image: South Carolina Department of Corrections)
Ms Sullivan, an intern with Death Penalty Action, had been speaking daily to Sigmon, who was sentenced for the death for the murders of David, 62, and Gladys Larke, 59.
The couple were beaten to death with a baseball bat at their home in Taylors in April 2001 after their daughter, Rebecca, ended her relationship with Sigmon.
After killing the Larkes, Sigmon, a tree surgeon, waited in the home and kidnapped Rebecca in her car when she returned from taking her children to school, according to court documents.
He shot her – using her father's gun – after she jumped out of the car, but she survived and managed to escape and raise the alarm.
The electric chair is currently the only option available to condemned prisoners in South Carolina (stock image)
(Image: Zuma Press/PA Images)
A manhunt was launched and Sigmon was arrested days later in Tennessee.
Ms Sullivan, 19, said Sigmon expressed his fears of dying in the electric chair and remorse during their recent phone conversations.
Speaking before the court intervened on Wednesday, she told the Mirror: "He was super fearful of the fact it would be an electrocution.
"He made a comment like, 'I can’t get the horror of my mind that the state is getting ready to fry me like a piece of bacon'."
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Ms Sullivan said it sounded like Sigmon was starting to lose hope after a lower court last week refused to halt the execution.
She had travelled from her home in Portland, Oregon, to Columbia, South Carolina to attend a vigil that was meant to take place on Friday at the time Sigmon was scheduled to be executed in the death chamber at Broad River Correctional Institution.
Ms Sullivan speaks and writes to about 20 death row prisoners, and had been in touch with Sigmon for more than a week as he prepared to die.
She said: "I wanted to reach and out say, 'I know you’re there because you did something, but I don’t believe they deserve to take your life'.
Alli Sullivan had been having daily conversation with Sigmon as he prepared to die
(Image: Alli Sullivan)
"'Your life is still important'. I just wanted them to know that people were thinking about them and people cared about them."
The last time she spoke to Sigmon, he had been visited by his family and briefed about his final hours as he waited for the latest court ruling.
Ms Sullivan, a carer who plans to attend law school, said: "The question came about his last meal. He said, 'a shot of whisky and two Newport cigarettes' … and they said, 'you know you can’t have that, what do you really want?'
"He said he didn't want anything for his last meal, that he would spend his last day praying and fasting."
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She said Sigmon expressed remorse for his crimes and was "sorry".
"He said, I don’t want to excuse my behaviour because there’s no excuse'," she added.
South Carolina's Supreme Court on Wednesday night halted the executions of Sigmon and Freddie Owens, who was scheduled to be put to death on June 25, following a controversial change in the state's capital punishment law.
South Carolina's Department of Corrections hasn't been able to obtain the drugs needed for lethal injection, so lawmakers amended the law to make electrocution the default method and firing squad an alternative if drugs are not available.
The state essentially gave itself the green light to resume executions, but electrocution was the only option for Sigmon and Owens, as a firing squad has not yet been formed.
Lawyers for Sigmon and Owens, 43, asked for the executions to be halted, arguing the state hadn't done enough to procure drugs for lethal injection.
Electrocution would amount to cruel and unusual punishment, violating the Eighth Amendment, the lawyers argued.
The court ruled that Sigmon and Owens, convicted of murdering a convenience store worker in 1997, had been stripped of their statutory right of choosing the method in which they are executed.
It said the executions cannot be rescheduled until firing squad is an option alongside electrocution.
Other states, including Alabama and Arizona, are planning to gas prisoners to death in moves condemned by abolitionists and Jewish groups amid a shortage of lethal injection drugs.
Janice Friebaum, vice-president of the Phoenix Holocaust Association, recently told NBC News: "Uniformly, Holocaust survivors and their descendants are nothing short of horrified of this form of execution being utilised.
"To think our 'civilised society' today in the state of Arizona would utilise this Nazi innovation, I believe, is tantamount to giving posthumous approval to the evils conducted by the Nazis.
"We're basically saying what the Nazis did was OK."
Ms Sullivan said: "None of the methods are humane. Every single method breaks the Eighth Amendment, which bans cruel and unusual punishment."
In a statement after the ruling, the Department of Corrections said it was working on "policies and procedures" for a firing squad.