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Alabama Resumes Lethal Injections with Execution of Man for 2001 Beating Death

by Joshua Brown
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Lethal injections

On Friday, Alabama executed a man for the 2001 beating death of a woman, marking the resumption of lethal injections after a review of execution procedures. James Barber, 64, was pronounced dead at 1:56 a.m. following a lethal injection administered at a south Alabama prison.

Barber had been convicted and sentenced to death for the brutal killing of 75-year-old Dorothy Epps. Prosecutors presented evidence that Barber, a handyman who knew Epps’ daughter, had confessed to the crime, stating that he killed Epps with a claw hammer before fleeing with her purse. The jury recommended a death sentence with an 11-1 vote, and the judge imposed the ruling.

Prior to his execution, Barber expressed love and apologies to both his family and the family of Dorothy Epps. He also forgave the governor and the individuals present in the room for their roles in his execution.

This execution was the first to be carried out in Alabama this year after a temporary halt due to difficulties inserting IVs into previous condemned inmates’ veins during lethal injections. These challenges led to the state’s decision to conduct an internal review of execution procedures, resulting in the resumption of executions.

Barber’s attorneys had sought to block the execution, arguing that the state had a history of failing to carry out lethal injections constitutionally. However, their request was denied by the Supreme Court. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, along with Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, dissented from the decision, expressing concerns about Alabama’s approach to execution.

Barber’s final moments were spent with a spiritual adviser in the death chamber. As the administered drugs took effect, he closed his eyes, and his breathing gradually slowed until it ceased.

Hours before Barber’s execution, Oklahoma also executed another inmate, Jemaine Cannon, for a separate crime committed in 1995.

The recent legal battles have centered on Alabama’s ability to establish intravenous access for the execution process. The state implemented changes, including using different IV team members and extending the execution deadline from midnight to 6 a.m., to address these concerns.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall stated that justice had been served with Barber’s execution, highlighting the gravity of his crime and its impact on Dorothy Epps’ family.

This update follows the news of Alabama’s planned execution of James Barber, which was the first lethal injection scheduled in the state since Governor Kay Ivey suspended executions for an internal review of the process in November.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Lethal injections

Q: Why was James Barber executed in Alabama?

A: James Barber was executed in Alabama for the 2001 beating death of 75-year-old Dorothy Epps. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the crime, as he confessed to killing Epps with a claw hammer and fleeing with her purse.

Q: Why were lethal injections resumed in Alabama?

A: Lethal injections were resumed in Alabama after a temporary halt due to difficulties in inserting IVs into previous condemned inmates’ veins during execution. Following two failed executions, the state conducted an internal review of procedures and made changes to address the issue.

Q: Did James Barber’s attorneys try to block the execution?

A: Yes, Barber’s attorneys made efforts to block the execution by arguing that the state had a history of failing to carry out lethal injections constitutionally. However, their request was denied by the Supreme Court.

Q: How did James Barber react before his execution?

A: Before his execution, James Barber expressed love for his family and apologized to the family of Dorothy Epps for the crime he committed. He also forgave the governor and others present in the room for their role in his execution.

Q: Was James Barber the first execution in Alabama this year?

A: Yes, James Barber’s execution was the first carried out in Alabama in the year mentioned in the news report.

Q: What other execution took place in Oklahoma on the same day?

A: On the same day, Oklahoma executed Jemaine Cannon, who had stabbed a Tulsa woman to death with a butcher knife in 1995 after escaping from a prison work center.

Q: How did the Supreme Court respond to James Barber’s request for a stay?

A: The Supreme Court denied James Barber’s request for a stay without comment, leading to the execution being carried out as scheduled.

Q: What changes were made to Alabama’s execution process after the internal review?

A: Alabama implemented changes such as using different IV team members and extending the execution deadline from midnight to 6 a.m. to improve the establishment of intravenous access during the execution process.

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