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Alabama executes Willie Smith by lethal injection

UPI News
UPI News
 2021-10-22
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Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Alabama corrections officials executed Willie Smith on Thursday night, eight months after the Supreme Court halted his lethal injection over a dispute about having his pastor present in the death chamber.

Smith, 52, was declared dead at 9:47 p.m., according to the attorney general's office. He was sentenced to death in 1992 for the abduction, robbery and murder of Sharma Johnson, 22, in 1991.

"The family of Sharma Johnson has had to wait 29 years, 11 months and 25 days to see the sentence of Sharma's murderer be carried out," Alabama Attorney General Steven Marshall said in a statement. "Finally, the cruel and unusual punishment that has been inflicted upon them -- a decades-long denial of justice -- has come to an end."

The execution "went according to our protocol," Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner told reporters afterward.

A press witness to the execution said Smith was accompanied into the chamber by his spiritual adviser Robert Wiley and that he offered no final words, WIAT reported.

He had no last meal and had refused breakfast and lunch during the day in which he was observed drinking a coke and eating M&Ms and barbecue chips, prison spokesperson Linda Mays said.

The execution was delayed several hours as the U.S. Supreme Court considered a petition by Smith's lawyers over his method of execution, which was denied.

Alabama allows death row inmates to choose to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia, but they had to say so within a 30-day window in June of 2018.

Smith's attorneys said he missed his opportunity to die by nitrogen hypoxia because of has "lifelong intellectual defects as demonstrated by an IQ of 64 at the low end and 75 at the high end." They said his execution would violate Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

The defense accused the Alabama Department of Corrections of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act when they didn't allow Smith accommodations needed for him to understand his option of electing nitrogen hypoxia as his method of execution.

The Supreme Court halted Smith's last execution date Feb. 11 a dozens hours before he was scheduled to die. Justices ruled Alabama couldn't execute him without his pastor in the execution chamber with him.

Following the execution Thursday, Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statement, saying it should send a message that Alabama "will not tolerate these murderous acts."

"The evidence in this case was overwhelming, and justice has been rightfully served," Ivey said.

Comments / 219

Straight Jacket
10-22

30 years, keeping him alive and well? how much did that cost us tax payers?! when convicted and sentenced, they should have HOURS before they are taken to the death chamber!!! he obviously had enough sense to do what he did to that girl, he had enough sense to die quickly so we didn't have to keep paying to keep him alive!!! eye for an eye and cruel and unusual punishment was not foregone for the girl or her family!!! lack of mental stability is not an excuse to keep a murderer alive for another 30 years after conviction!!!!

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Kenneth Kohler
10-22

yeah you finally did it after 30 years only took him a second to shoot the woman in the head but you failed off taxpayer the money for 30 years feed him three times a day room and board

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Barb Bechtel
10-22

why, not e ecute all of them and be done. Save lots of taxes. we have to any bleeding hearts, to bad were not back on the 1800's there wouldn't be no staying on death row, they would be done and over it.

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