June 15, 2024

Alabama makes convicted murderer James Barber the first lethal injection since review after IV problems

Atmore, Alabama — Alabama executed a man Friday for the 2001 beating death of a woman as the state resumed lethal injections after a break to review procedures. James Barber64, was pronounced dead at 1:56 a.m. after receiving a lethal injection at a south Alabama prison.

Barber was convicted and sentenced to death for the death of 75-year-old Dorothy Epps in 2001. Prosecutors said Barber, a handyman, admitted to killing Epps with a claw hammer and fleeing with her purse. Jurors voted 11-1 to recommend a death sentence, imposed by a judge.

Alabama death row inmate James Barber was executed by lethal injection on July 21, 2023 for the 2001 murder of Dorothy Epps.


It was the first execution in Alabama this year after the state halted executions last fall. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey suspended execution in November to conduct an internal review of procedures.

The move came after the state halted two lethal injections because of difficulties inserting IVs into the veins of the condemned men. Advocacy groups have claimed a third execution, which was carried out after a delay due to IV problems, was botched, a claim the state disputes.

Barber’s attorneys asked the courts unsuccessfully to block the execution, saying the state has a pattern of failing to “constitutionally execute lethal injection.”

The state asked the courts to allow the execution to go ahead.

“Mrs. Epps and her family have been waiting for justice for twenty-two years,” the Alabama attorney general’s office wrote in a court filing.

Inmate Alan Miller’s attorneys said prison staff poked him with needles for more than an hour as they tried to connect him to an IV line and at one point left him hanging vertically on a guinea while he was. was executed in September. State officials put an end to Samhain death of Kenneth Eugene Smith after failing to connect the second of two required lines.

Kenneth Eugene Smith

Alabama Department of Corrections

Ivey announced in February that the state was resuming enforcement. Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said the prison system has added medical professionals, ordered new equipment and conducted additional exercises.

Attorney General Barber argued that the execution was likely to be “botched in the same way as the previous three”.

The Supreme Court denied Barber’s request to remain silent. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the decision in writing with Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

“The Eighth Amendment requires more than the State’s word that this time will be different. The Court should not allow Alabama to test the effectiveness of its internal review by using Barber as its ‘guinea pig,'” Sotomayor wrote.

State officials wrote that the previous executions were halted due to “a confluence of events — including health issues specific to the individual inmates and last-minute litigation by the inmates that greatly shortened the window for ADOC officials to carry out the executions.”

In the hours before the scheduled execution, Barber had 22 visitors and two phone calls, a prison spokesman said. Barber ate a final meal of loaded hashbrowns, western omelet, spicy sausage and toast.

One of the changes Alabama made after the internal review was to give the state more time to execute. The Alabama Supreme Court ended its usual midnight deadline for execution to give the state more time to set up an IV line and deal with last-minute legal appeals.

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