ATMORE, Ala. – An Alabama inmate convicted of murdering his former girlfriend decades ago was executed Thursday night despite pleas from victim’s family to spare his life.
Joe Nathan James Jr. received a lethal injection in a southern Alabama prison after the US Supreme Court denied his request for a stay.
James was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1994 shooting death of 26-year-old Faith Hall in Birmingham. The Hall girls said they would prefer James serve life in prison, but Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said Wednesday that she planned to let the execution continue.
Prosecutors say James briefly dated Hall and became obsessed after she rejected him, stalking and stalking her for months before killing her. On August 15, 1994, after Hall went shopping with a friend, James broke into the friend’s apartment, pulled a gun from his belt and shot Hall three times, according to reports. court documents.
A Jefferson County jury first convicted James of capital murder in 1996 and voted to recommend the death sentence, which a judge imposed. The conviction was overturned when a state appeals court ruled that a judge had improperly admitted certain police reports into evidence. James was retried and sentenced to death again in 1999, when jurors rejected defense claims that he was under emotional duress at the time of the shooting.
The execution began minutes after 9 p.m. CDT after a nearly three-hour delay that the state did not immediately explain. James did not open his eyes or show any visible movement before the execution began. He didn’t move or speak when the manager asked him if he had any last words. His breathing slowed until it was no longer visible, and he was pronounced dead at 9:27 p.m.
Hall’s two daughters, who were 3 and 6 when their mother was killed, had recently said they would prefer James to serve life in prison. Family members do not attend the execution.
“Today is a tragic day for our family. We must relive the hurt this caused us many years ago,” reads the statement released by the office of State Representative Juandalynn Givan. Givan was a friend of Hall.
“We hoped the state would not take a life just because a life was taken and we have forgiven Mr. Joe Nathan James Jr. for his atrocities to our family. …We pray that God will allow us to find healing after today and that one day our criminal justice system will listen to the cries of families like ours, even if it goes against what the state wishes “, we read in the press release of the family.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said she would not intervene. In a statement late Thursday, Ivey said she deeply considers the feelings of the victim’s family and loved ones, but “must always uphold our responsibility to the law, public safety and justice.”
“Faith Hall, victim of repetitive harassment, serious threats and ultimately cold-blooded murder, was taken from this earth far too soon at the hands of Joe Nathan James, Jr. Now, after two convictions, a unanimous jury decision and nearly three decades on death row, Mr. James was executed for capital murder and justice served for Faith Hall.
She said the execution sends an “unequivocal message that Alabama stands with victims of domestic violence.”
James acted as his own attorney in his attempt to stop his execution, sending handwritten lawsuits and notices of appeal to the courts from death row. An attorney filed the final appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on his behalf on Wednesday. But the request for a stay was denied about 30 minutes before the execution began.
James asked judges for a stay, noting opposition from Hall’s family and arguing that Alabama had failed to give inmates adequate notice of their right to choose an alternate method of execution. He also argued that Ivey’s refusal violated religious freedom laws because the Quran and the Bible “bring the concept of forgiveness to the fore in this situation.”
The state argued that James waited too late to start trying to postpone his execution and “should not be rewarded for his transparent attempt to game the system”.