Man Forced to Choose Between Electric Chair or Firing Squad for South Carolina’s First Execution in Decade

Fatim Hemraj
Brad Keith Sigmon.My Crime Library

Brad Sigmon and Rebecca “Becky” Barbare met in 1998. The pair began dating and within months, Brad had moved into Becky’s mobile home with her young children in Greenville, South Carolina.

The couple dated for the next three years but their relationship was incessantly volatile. After years of abuse, Becky told Brad she no longer wanted to be with him and told him to move out. When he refused, her father served him with eviction papers, giving Brad two weeks to pack up his things and leave.

Meanwhile, Becky took her children and moved in with her parents, David and Gladys Larke, who lived just behind her trailer.

Brad refused to accept that his relationship with Becky was over. He became increasingly jealous and obsessive of her, calling her at all hours of the day and night begging her to return, stalking her and accusing her of being with another man.

A week after the break-up, Brad invited his friend, Eugene Strube, over to Becky’s trailer for a night of smoking crack cocaine and getting plastered. Brad vented his frustrations regarding his failed relationship to Eugene and the pair drummed up a plan: the next morning after Becky left to drop her children off at school, they would go to her parent’s home and tie the couple up. When Becky returned, Brad would abduct her and the pair would vanish.

The next morning, on April 27, 2001, at 8 am, Brad watched Becky leave her parent’s home and told Eugene it was time to put their plan in motion, but Eugene suddenly had a change of heart and took off running in the woods.

Brad entered the Larke home and instead of tying the couple up, he killed them. When Becky returned, he brandished her father’s gun and forced her into her own vehicle. He told Becky he had killed her parents and that she would be next.

Becky was hopeful he was lying to provoke a reaction and scare her, but she couldn’t take that chance. She opened the passenger side door and jumped out of the moving vehicle as Brad shot at her, hitting her in the foot.

Becky ran to witnesses who had pulled over to help her and told them that her ex-boyfriend had killed her parents and kidnapped her. They phoned the police and when authorities arrived at the Larke home, they found the bodies of 62-year-old David Larke and his wife, 59-year-old Gladys Larke.

For the next 11 days, Brad led authorities on a manhunt that ended with his capture on a campground in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, thanks to his mother who had turned him in.

Brad immediately confessed to the double murders of the Larkes’ and admitted he had kidnapped Becky with the intention of killing her, and then himself. He was charged with a slew of offences including, two counts of first-degree murder, assault and battery with intent to kill, kidnapping and burglary.

The defence argued that trauma from childhood abandonment and long-term drug use was to blame for Brad’s actions, but the jury was unsympathetic and on July 19, 2002, they found the 42-year-old guilty. He was sentenced to death.

At the time of Brad’s sentencing, executions were to be conducted via lethal injection, but the state of South Carolina hasn’t had access to those drugs in years. Due to that fact, Brad’s execution has been stayed several times — until now. A new law allows the state to execute those on death row using either the electric chair or a firing squad.

Brad’s attorneys filed a petition arguing his execution should not be conducted via those methods since he was sentenced before the new law was introduced, but the motion was denied.

63-year-old Brad Sigmon has nine more days to choose how he wishes to die —his execution is scheduled for June 18, 2021. It will be the first in South Carolina in over a decade.

Sources: WISTV, GoUpstate, Supreme Court: Sigmon v. Stirling, Sigmon. v. State of South Carolina

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