Alabama man executed 30 years after killing police officer's sister in a cemetery
An Alabama man who avoided execution in February was put to death Thursday for the 1991 killing of a woman who was abducted during a robbery and then shot in a cemetery.
Willie B. Smith III, 52, received a lethal injection at a prison in southwest Alabama. He was pronounced dead at 9:47 p.m. local time.
The execution went forward after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request for a stay by his lawyers, who had argued the execution should be blocked on grounds that Smith had an intellectual disability meriting further scrutiny by the courts. CBS affiliate WIAT reports two former Alabama governors said Smith's case raised serious questions about the death penalty citing the man's mental capacity as one important issue to be considered.
Prosecutors said Smith had a shotgun when he abducted Johnson in October 1991 from an ATM location in the Birmingham area. He withdrew money using her bank card and then took her to a cemetery and shot her in the back of the head, they said. Johnson was the sister of a Birmingham police officer.
"After waiting for 30 years, justice has been served," Johnson's family said in a statement read by Alabama Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn.
The execution began shortly after 9:30 p.m. Smith declined to give any final words. The state allowed a personal pastor with the inmate for the first time during the execution. Pastor Robert Wiley appeared to pray with Smith and put his hand on his leg as the lethal injection procedure began. One of his attorneys held his fist up to the witness room glass in an apparent sign of support.
Post a Comment