22 October 2021 :
Willie Smith was executed at The William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore
Smith, 51, Black, was executed by legal injection at 9:47 p.m. local time, 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.
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."
Smith becomes the the 1st executed this year in Alabama, the 68th since the state resumed executions in 1983, the 8th inmate to be put to death in the USA this year and the 1,537th overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977. On the Smith’s case see also HoC 11/02/2021, 25/02/2021 and 13/09/2021.