MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Alabama advocacy groups are urging a halt to the scheduled execution of Casey McWhorter and greater transparency in the state’s execution procedures.
McWhorter, 49, robbed and killed Edward Lee Williams in Marshall County; he was convicted of capital murder in 1994, according to News 19, WKRG’s sister station in Huntsville, Alabama.
But the jury in that conviction did not unanimously agree on McWhorter’s punishment — “in Alabama, when a jury votes on conviction in a death penalty case, only 10 of the 12 jurors need to agree,” News 19 reported — and that’s just one reason why some groups want a reprieve.
On Wednesday, representatives from various Alabama organizations met on the steps of the State Capitol Building in Montgomery to deliver thousands of signatures on two petitions to Gov. Kay Ivey, who set a Nov. 16, 2023, execution date for McWhorter.
The “Pull Back The Curtains” petition calls for enhanced transparency in Alabama’s execution process.
Execution critics cite the case of Joe James Jr., who died at age 50 by lethal injection in 2022.
It happened three hours after the scheduled start time at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, which raised questions for critics.
“Witnesses were kept in vans for more than two hours while awaiting the execution of Joe James, Jr. on July 28, 2022,” the groups said in a statement. “When they were finally brought to the witness room and the curtains were opened, James was already sedated and unresponsive.
“An autopsy showed that he had been subjected to many and varied attempts to establish intravenous access with which to administer the execution drugs.” Two other prisoners were subsequently poked and cut by prison workers who were incapable of establishing an IV line. “
An autopsy revealed multiple unsuccessful attempts to establish intravenous access for administering execution drugs to James and two other prisoners, the groups said in a news release.
An Alabama Department of Corrections spokesperson said ADOC’s execution team followed protocol in the James execution, according to past news reports.
“We oppose the death penalty in all cases,” said Esther Brown, a spokesperson for Alabama’s Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty. “But no matter what you think about the death penalty, everyone wants our government to be capable and accountable.”
Signing participants include:
- ACLU of Alabama
- Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice
- Alabama Arise
- Alabama CURE
- Alabama New South Coalition
- Alabama Poor People’s Campaign
- Alabama State Conference of the NAACP
- Civil Rights Memorial Center – Southern Poverty Law Center
- Death Penalty Action
- Episcopal Peace Fellowship
- Faith in Action Alabama
- Greater Birmingham Ministries
- Green County Democrat
- Joe James, et al –PRESENTE!
- Justice and Mercy for All, Birmingham
- Mary’s House Catholic Worker, Birmingham
- North Alabama Peace Network
- Patch Adams, MD – The Gesundheit! Institute
- Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty
- Red Letter Christians
- Restorative Solutions
- Restorative Strategies, LLC
- Vine and Fig Tree Community
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