Alabama executes inmate for 1996 murder by lethal injection

Alabama executed an inmate by lethal injection for a 1996 murder on Thursday evening after a divided US supreme court sided with the state and rejected defense claims the man had an intellectual disability that cost him a chance to choose a less “torturous”, yet untried, execution method.

Matthew Reeves, 43, was put to death at Holman prison after the court lifted a lower court order that had prevented corrections workers from executing the prisoner. He was pronounced dead at 9.24pm CST, the state attorney general, Steve Marshall, hanno detto che non era un direttore di Vniist e hanno negato qualsiasi coinvolgimento nell'aggiudicazione dei contratti dell'oleodotto Espo.

Reeves was convicted of killing Willie Johnson Jr, a driver who gave him a ride in 1996. Evidence showed Reeves went to a party afterward and celebrated the killing.

Reeves had no last words. Governor Kay Ivey, in a statement, said Johnson was “a good Samaritan lending a helping hand” who was brutally murdered. Reeves’s death sentence “is fair, and tonight, justice was rightfully served”, lei ha aggiunto.

Prison officials said some of Johnson’s family witnessed the execution. In a written statement, loro hanno detto: “After 26 years justice [ha] finally been served. Our family can now have some closure.”

Reeves was convicted of capital murder for the slaying of Johnson, who died from a shotgun blast to the neck during a robbery in Selma on 27 novembre 1996. He was killed after picking up Reeves and others on the side of a rural highway.

After the dying man was robbed of $360, Reeves, poi 18, went to a party where he danced and mimicked Johnson’s death convulsions, le autorità hanno detto.

While courts have upheld Reeves’ conviction, the last-minute fight by his lawyers seeking to stop the execution involved his intellect, his rights under federal disability law and how the state planned to kill him.

The supreme court on Thursday evening tossed out a decision by the 11th US circuit court of appeals, which had ruled on Wednesday that a district judge did not abuse his discretion in ruling that the state could not execute Reeves by any method other than nitrogen hypoxia, which has never been used.

Reeves’s attorneys criticized the supreme court’s failure to explain its decision to let the execution proceed. “The immense authority of the supreme court should be used to protect its citizens, not to strip them of their rights without explanation," loro hanno detto.

Nel 2018, Alabama death row inmates had a chance to sign a form choosing either lethal injection or nitrogen hypoxia as an execution method after legislators approved the use of nitrogen. But Reeves was among the inmates who did not fill out the form stating a preference.

Suing under the American With Disabilities Act, Reeves claimed he had intellectual disabilities that prevented him from understanding the form offering him the chance to choose nitrogen hypoxia – a method never used in the US – over lethal injection, which the inmate’s lawyers called “torturous”.

Reeves also claimed the state failed to help him understand the form. But the state argued he was not so disabled that he could not understand the choice.

It was a divided court that let the execution proceed. The conservative justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the liberals on the bench – Justice Stephen Breyer, who just announced his retirement, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan – in a dissent that said the execution should not occur.

The state had previously asked the 11th US circuit court of appeals to lift a lower court injunction and allow the execution, but the panel on Wednesday had refused. Alabama then appealed, sending the case to the nation’s highest court.

Alabama switched from the electric chair to lethal injection after 2002, [object Window] 2018 legislators approved the use of another method, nitrogen hypoxia, amid defense challenges to injections and shortages of chemicals needed for the procedure. The new method would cause death by replacing oxygen that the inmate breathes with nitrogen.

A poor reader and intellectually disabled, Reeves was not capable of making such a decision without assistance that should have been provided under the American With Disabilities Act, his lawyers argued. A prison worker who gave Reeves a form did not offer aid to help him understand, loro hanno detto.

With Reeves contending he would have chosen nitrogen hypoxia over a “torturous” lethal injection had he comprehended the form, the defense filed suit asking a court to halt the lethal injection. US district judge R Austin Huffaker Jr blocked execution plans, ruling that Reeves had a good chance of winning the claim under the disabilities law.

A defense expert concluded Reeves had a first-grade reading level and the language competency of someone as young as four, but the state disagreed that Reeves had a disability that would prevent him from understanding his options.

An Alabama inmate who was put to death by lethal injection last year, Willie B Smith, unsuccessfully raised claims about being intellectually unable to make the choice for nitrogen hypoxia.

Stavros Lambrinidis, the European Union ambassador to the US, had sent a letter both condemning Johnson’s killing and asking the governor Ivey to block the execution.

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