death penalty

Those in Montgomery today can hear the personal accounts of people who have dedicated their lives to social justice.

The event Storytellers: How I Became Justice Involved is being held tonight by the Middle District of Alabama Federal Defenders Program. It’s scheduled on the birthday of Robin “Rocky” Myers, a death row inmate in Alabama who many believe was wrongly convicted. Advocates are hoping to raise awareness of Myers’s case while also sharing their own work on social justice issues.

lethal injection chamber
EJI

A lawsuit challenging Alabama’s lethal injection process took an unexpected turn yesterday. Eight of the inmate plaintiffs asked to be put to death instead by the state’s newly-approved execution method – inhaling nitrogen gas.

Both the Alabama attorney general's office and lawyers for inmates submitted a joint motion to dismiss the litigation yesterday. Lawyers say the inmates' claims challenging Alabama’s use of midazolam in executions as inhumane are now moot, since their pending executions will now be carried out by use of nitrogen.

Walter Leroy Moody
ADOC

A man responsible for a wave of terror across the Southeast in the late 1980s was put to death last night.

83-year-old Walter Leroy Moody was pronounced dead at 8:42 p.m. last night following a lethal injection at W.C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama.

Moody was convicted of killing U.S. Circuit Judge Robert S. Vance and Robert Robinson, a black civil rights attorney from Savannah, Georgia, with bombs sent through the mail. Two other bombs, including one mailed to a Florida NAACP office, were intercepted and did not explode.

Robert Vance
Joyce Vance via AP

A package bomber who created a wave of terror across the South is scheduled to be executed in Alabama, nearly 30 years after killing a federal judge with a bomb mailed to his home.

Walter Leroy Moody Jr., 83, is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday. At his 1996 trial, prosecutors described Moody as a meticulous coward who committed murder by mail because of his obsession with getting revenge on the legal system, and then committed more bombings to make it look like the Ku Klux Klan was behind the judge's murder.

A man convicted of killing his former boss at a traveling carnival nearly two decades ago was put to death last night after having dropped his appeals and asking courts to execute him.

50-year-old Michael Wayne Eggers died at 7:29 p.m. after receiving a lethal injection at a southwest Alabama prison. He was sentenced to death for the murder of his former employer Bennie Francis Murray in 2000. Prosecutors say Eggers admitted to strangling Murray during an argument.

Lawyers say a settlement is possible in the case of an Alabama inmate whose lethal injection was halted last month when the execution team could not find a usable vein.

Lawyers for both the state of Alabama and death row inmate Doyle Lee Hamm wrote that they were in "serious settlement discussions." The filing did not elaborate, so it's unclear what a potential settlement may entail.

Hamm's attorney is seeking to block Alabama from attempting to execute him again.

Alabama Death Row
EJI

A federal judge has ruled that an Alabama inmate battling serious health issues does, in fact, have good enough veins to safely undergo a lethal injection.

U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre denied a request from Doyle Lee Hamm to block his execution, currently scheduled for tomorrow. Hamm and his attorney have argued that lethal injection would be unconstitutionally cruel in his case, as drug use along with lymphoma and hepatitis C have severely compromised Hamm's veins. His lawyer also argues it would be inhumane to execute someone already battling cancer.

A federal judge has stayed the upcoming execution of an Alabama man in order to have an independent medical expert review claims that he is too sick to be executed.

Chief U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre made that ruling yesterday. A lawyer representing Doyle Lee Hamm argues lethal injection would be unconstitutionally cruel in Hamm’s case because battles with lymphoma and hepatitis C have severely compromised his veins. The lawyer also argues it would be inhumane to execute someone suffering from terminal cancer.

Vernon Madison
EJI

Alabama inmate Vernon Madison was scheduled to be put to death last night at 6 p.m., but he is still alive this morning.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of execution last night in order to consider arguments from the 67-year-old inmate’s attorneys. Madison had been sentenced to death for the 1985 killing of Mobile police officer Julius Schulte. In the three decades since, Madison’s lawyers say he’s suffered multiple strokes and now has vascular dementia. That has left him unable to remember the crime he committed or understand his looming execution.

Alabama death row
EJI

The Supreme Court has paved the way for a death row inmate to be put to death on Thursday, despite his lawyers pleading he doesn’t currently remember his crime or even understand his looming execution.

Attorneys for Vernon Madison petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday asking them to review his case and whether executing him would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Justices rejected that request this morning without issuing a written explanation.

The state of Alabama has set a date for the execution of a terminally ill man.

Al.com reports the Alabama Supreme Court ordered yesterday that 60-year-old Doyle Lee Hamm is scheduled to be put to death on February 22. Hamm has spent 30 years on Alabama’s death row.

He was convicted in the murder of Patrick Cunningham, a hotel employee in Cullman, Alabama. Cunningham was killed during a robbery that apparently netted just over 400 dollars. Hamm confessed to the murder, and two other men agreed to testify against him in exchange for lesser charges.

Last night, the state of Alabama put a man to death who was convicted of murdering a police officer and also in the process of suing the state over its lethal injection methods.

The state of Alabama is asking the U.S. Supreme Court for permission to proceed with the execution of a man convicted of killing his estranged wife and father-in-law back in 1993.

Yesterday, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall asked the nation's high court to overturn an injunction currently blocking Thursday's scheduled execution of 56-year-old Jeffery Lynn Borden.

Alabama death row
EJI

The state of Alabama put Robert Melson to death last night for killing three people during a 1994 robbery of a Gadsden fast food restaurant.

Melson was pronounced dead at 10:27 p.m. last night, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections. It’s the second execution of the year in Alabama.

Alabama death row
EJI

A death row inmate in Alabama is looking to halt his upcoming execution due to the use of a sedative that his lawyers say has “failed to work properly in four states”.

Attorneys for inmate Robert Melson appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week for an emergency stay of his execution. Melson is scheduled to be put to death a week from today for the killings of three Gadsden restaurant employees during a 1995 robbery.

An inmate once called the "Houdini" of Alabama's death row for escaping seven past execution dates was put to death early this morning for a 1982 contract killing.

Tommy Arthur, 75, was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m. this morning following a lethal injection, according to correctional authorities said. Arthur was convicted of killing riverboat engineer Troy Wicker, who was fatally shot as he slept in his bed in Muscle Shoals.

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a temporary stay on the execution of an Alabama prison inmate.

The nation's high court stayed the execution of Tommy Arthur, "pending further order" from the justices, late Thursday afternoon. Arthur was scheduled to be executed Thursday evening.

The United States Supreme Court will not reconsider the appeal of an Alabama death row inmate scheduled to be executed next month.

Yesterday, Supreme Court justices refused the rehearing request by Tommy Arthur, who has had seven execution dates postponed so far.

      State lawmakers return from spring break Tuesday to a full plate of issues. State budgets, prison construction and action on the proposed impeachment of Governor Robert Bentley are among the matters set to be decided before the session ends in late May.   

   The State House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to end Alabama's practice that allows a judge to impose a death sentence when a jury has recommended life imprisonment. Alabama is the last state to still allow a judge to override a jury's sentencing recommendation in capital murder cases. 

The Alabama House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on a bill prohibiting judges from imposing a death sentence after a jury recommends life imprisonment.

Alabama is the only state that allows judicial override of jury sentence recommendations in capital murder cases.

Lawmakers sponsoring the legislation will hold a press conference later today in Montgomery.

Alabama death row
EJI

Alabama may be close to putting an end to the unusual practice of allowing judges to hand down death sentences in capital murder cases despite a jury recommendation for life in prison.

The state Senate approved a bill yesterday that would end the state's status as the only one in the U.S. that allows a judge to override a jury when sentencing capital murder cases.

Senators approved the bill 30-1. It now moves to the House of Representatives, where a similar bill has cleared committee but faces an uncertain future on the House floor.

The Alabama Senate may debate a bill later today that would prohibit judges from imposing a death sentence after a jury has already recommended life imprisonment.

Alabama is currently the only state in the country that allows judicial override of sentences in capital murder cases.

Supreme Court Won't Review AL Death Row Cases

Jan 26, 2017
Alabama death row
EJI

The U.S. Supreme Court says it won’t be taking up the cases of three Alabama death row inmates, including one who recently came very close to the death chamber.

Al.com reports the Supreme Court justices declined to review the cases of Jerry Bohannon, Aubrey Shaw and Tommy Arthur. Arthur was awarded a last-minute stay of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court back in November.

Alabama death row inmate Ronald Bert Smith was executed last night for the 1994 killing of a Huntsville man.

But the way he died may lend additional support to those attempting to outlaw the use of the sedative midazolam in a three-drug lethal injection cocktail. During the 34-minute execution last night at Holman Correctional Facility, Smith reportedly coughed and heaved for nearly 15 minutes.

A federal judge may allow Alabama to change its lethal injection method for an inmate's execution scheduled for next month.

Al.com reports U.S. District Court Judge Keith Watkins gave Ronald Bert Smith's attorneys until noon on Nov. 16 to submit, in writing, why the state should not execute Smith using "a large initial dose of midazolam, followed by continuous infusion" of the sedative.

The Supreme Court has denied an appeal from a death row inmate in Alabama.

The justices did not comment Monday in turning away the appeal from Bill Kuenzel, convicted of killing a convenience store clerk in 1987.  Kuenzel says evidence withheld by prosecutors entitled him to a new court hearing.

Kuenzel's case had gotten a boost from former Attorney General Edwin Meese, who said Kuenzel is "very likely actually innocent."

Alabama asks to let execution go forward

Oct 24, 2016

The state of Alabama is asking an appellate court to let the November execution of an inmate go forward.

The state attorney general's office on Friday asked the 11th U.S. circuit Court of Appeals to reject Tommy Arthur's request for a stay.

The state argues Arthur has used abusive litigation tactics to "escape" execution. Arthur had been scheduled for execution on six previous occasions, but was given court-issued reprieves.

The fate of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is with the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission. The panel filed six counts of judicial ethics violations against Moore and suspended him from office pending an investigation.

The charges stem from an order he issued to all of the state’s probate judges instructing them not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The order was issued in January, six months after and in direct defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

Alabama's attorney general is appealing a recent ruling that declared the state's death penalty sentencing system unconstitutional.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Tracie Todd doesn't have the authority to prevent the state from seeking the death penalty against defendants who are charged with capital murder.

In Alabama death penalty cases, juries recommend sentences but judges have the final say. It’s not uncommon for state judges to overturn a jury recommendation of life in prison in favor of the death penalty.

Alabama death row
EJI

A Jefferson County judge has ruled Alabama’s method of imposing the death penalty unconstitutional.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Tracie Todd sided with defense attorneys who argued that Alabama’s death penalty statute was extremely similar to Florida’s, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Florida’s law was unconstitutional in January.

In death penalty cases in Alabama and Florida, juries recommend sentences but judges have the final decision. It’s not uncommon for Alabama judges to overrule a jury suggestion of life in prison and impose the death penalty.

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