Alabama, Oklahoma Carry Out Executions

James Barber said he felt 'trepidation' after two failed executions in Alabama
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 21, 2023 4:17 AM CDT
Alabama, Oklahoma Carry Out Executions
This undated photo provided by the Alabama Department of Corrections shows James Barber.   (Alabama Department of Corrections via AP)

Alabama executed a man on Friday for the 2001 beating death of a woman as the state resumed lethal injections after two failed executions prompted the governor to order an internal review of procedures. James Barber, 64, was pronounced dead at 1:56am after receiving a lethal injection at a south Alabama prison. Barber was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2001 beating death of 75-year-old Dorothy Epps. Prosecutors said Barber, a handyman, confessed to killing Epps with a claw hammer and fleeing with her purse. Jurors voted 11-1 to recommend a death sentence, which a judge imposed. Before he was put to death, Barber told his family he loved them and apologized to Epps' family, the AP reports.

It was the first execution carried out in Alabama this year after the state halted executions last fall. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced a pause on executions in November to conduct an internal review of procedures. The move came after the state halted two lethal injections because of difficulties inserting IVs into the condemned men's veins, and Barber said this week that he felt "trepidation." Barber's attorneys unsuccessfully asked the courts to block the execution, saying the state has a pattern of failing "to carry out a lethal injection execution in a constitutional manner." The Supreme Court denied Barber's request for a stay without comment.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissent from the decision that was joined by Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. She said the court was allowing "Alabama to experiment again with a human life." "The Court should not allow Alabama to test the efficacy of its internal review by using Barber as its 'guinea pig.'" Sotomayor wrote. Barber's execution came hours after Oklahoma executed Jemaine Cannon, 51, for stabbing a Tulsa woman, 20-year-old mother of two Sharonda Clark, to death with a butcher knife in 1995 after his escape from a prison work center. It was the state's second execution this year, the AP reports.

(More execution stories.)

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