Alabama death row inmate is executed nearly 30 years after murder conviction

Alabama death row inmate Willie B. Smith III was executed Thursday night, the state attorney general’s office announced, after the US Supreme Court declined to hear an 11th-hour appeal.

Smith was executed by legal injection at 9:47 p.m. local time in Atmore, Alabama, according to the attorney general’s office.

Smith was convicted of robbing 22-year-old Sharma Ruth Johnson, forcing her into the trunk of her own stolen car and fatally shooting her in 1991. Investigators say Smith then set the car on fire with Johnson’s body inside.

“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,” state Attorney General Steve 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.”

In February, the Supreme Court blocked his execution on the grounds that Smith wanted his spiritual adviser present in the execution chamber. The state of Alabama had asked the justices to allow the execution without his adviser in the chamber.

On October 17, a preliminary injunction seeking to stop his execution regarding his choice of execution method was denied in federal court.

A state law went into effect in 2018 that allowed for death row inmates to elect death by nitrogen hypoxia instead of lethal injection, the default method of execution. Court records show that Smith received the form to choose, but didn’t make the election during a 30-day opt-in period.

Because Smith suffers from “significant cognitive deficiencies,” his motion for preliminary injunction alleged he was unable to “enjoy the benefit of the statute and the election form” without being aided with comprehension of the form and its contents. According to the ruling, Smith’s attorneys asserted that he was unable to fill out the form because he has an IQ between 64 and 72.

Chief US District Judge Emily Marks ruled, “Because Smith has not shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of his ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) claim, and because the equities weigh against him, Smith has not met his burden of establishing his right to a preliminary injunction.”

Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement following the execution, “The evidence in this case was overwhelming, and justice has been rightfully served. The carrying out of Mr. Smith’s sentence sends the message that the state of Alabama will not tolerate these murderous acts. I pray that the loved ones of Ms. Johnson can be closer to finding peace.”

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Playlist

Blogs

Kanye West to release new album this week

Kanye West to release new album this week

By: Josh Lea @joshdlea Kanye West made headlines over the weekend, appearing at multiple events in Las Vegas, Nevada. On Sunday, Ye held a private listening party for his new album LP 10 (Donda). The album reportedly will feature Travis Scott, Post Malone, Lil Baby, and Tyler The Creator. Tyler was in a viral video…

‘Just A Friend’ Artist Biz Markie has passed at 57

‘Just A Friend’ Artist Biz Markie has passed at 57

  By: Josh Lea @joshdlea Biz Markie, known by many for his hit song, Just A Friend, passed away on Friday from complications of type II diabetes. Markie, a native of Harlem, New York, began his rise in 1988 with his debut album Going Off. The album featured Markie’s calling card of beatboxing with the…

Drake gets slammed for tattoo of himself in front of the Beatles

Drake gets slammed for tattoo of himself in front of the Beatles

Drake recently posted a pic of his newest tattoo on Instagram featuring the famous Beatles walk across Abbey Road. However, he tattooed himself in front of the Beatles. Drake, of course, famously said in the song ‘Going Bad’ “I got more slaps than the Beatles.” Supporters of the Beatles didn’t take long to slam Drake…

Concert Calendar

Headlines