Supreme Court issues stay for Alabama inmate less than two hours before his execution for killing three cops following pleas from Kim Kardashian and MLK’s son
- Nathaniel Woods, 44, was sentenced to death for the murders of three police officers on June 17 2004 at an apartment in Ensley, Birmingham
- He was set to die by lethal injection at 6pm Thursday at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, before judges issued an eleventh-hour stay
- Police officers Carlos Owen, Charles Bennett and Harley Chisolm III, were shot dead when they were trying to serve a warrant for Woods’ arrest
- Kerry Spencer confessed to being the lone gunman in the slayings
- Both men were charged and convicted with capital murder as prosecutors alleged Woods was an accomplice
- Celebrities have protested Woods’ innocence with Kim Kardashian tweeting the case to her 64 million followers on Thursday and pleading for a stay
- Martin Luther King III wrote to the judge saying Woods was ‘very likely innocent’
The Supreme Court has issued a stay of execution in the final hours for Nathaniel Woods who was convicted of the murder of three police officers
The Supreme Court has issued a stay of execution in the final hours for an Alabama man convicted of the murder of three police officers.
Nathaniel Woods, 44, was sentenced to death for the 2004 murders that rocked Birmingham – despite another man confessing to being the lone gunman in the slayings.
He was set to die by lethal injection at 6pm Thursday at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore.
Just 30 minutes hours before his execution, the courts issued a stay of execution at around 5:30pm so the case can be reviewed.
Police officers Carlos Owen, Charles Bennett and Harley Chisolm III, were shot dead on June 17 2004 at an apartment in Ensley, Birmingham, when they were trying to serve a warrant for Woods’ arrest for misdemeanor assault.
A fourth officer was also injured in the shooting but survived and testified against Woods.
Woods’ alleged accomplice, Kerry Spencer, confessed to being the lone gunman responsible for the slaying of the officers.
But, despite the confession, both men were charged and convicted with capital murder.
Prosecutors alleged that Woods and Spencer had conspired to lure the cops to the apartment to murder them.
They said that, while Woods did not pull the trigger that ended their lives, he was Spencer’s accomplice.
Woods was in the apartment at the time of the murders.
Left to right: Officers Carlos Owen, Harley A. Chisholm III and Charles R. Bennett were killed while serving a warrant at a home in Birmingham in 2004
Kerry Spencer (above) confessed to being the lone gunman responsible for the slaying of the officers
A jury convicted Woods in December 2005, and returned a non-unanimous verdict of 10-2 for the death penalty.
Such convictions are allowed under state law, and other people have been executed for ‘non-triggerman’ slayings.
The eleventh-hour stay came after celebrities and activists waded in, protesting Woods’ innocence of the crimes and calling for Governor Kay Ivey to halt tonight’s execution.
Kim Kardashian, who is trying to rebrand herself as a justice reform activist, tweeted the case to her 64 million followers on Thursday and pleaded with the governor for a reprieve.
‘#NathanielWoods is scheduled to be executed in Alabama TONIGHT for murders he did NOT commit. Join the broad coalition- including members of the jury and relatives of the victims – in urging @GovernorKayIvey and @AGSteveMarshall to stay Nate’s execution,’ the reality star tweeted.
The case has been widely publicised after celebrities and activists waded in, protesting Woods’ innocence of the crimes. Kim Kardashian, who is trying to rebrand herself as a justice reform activist, tweeted the case to her 64 million followers on Thursday and called on the courts to grant a stay
Kardashian’s plea comes after Martin Luther King Jr’s son and other famous figures all called for the execution to be halted.
Martin Luther King III stepped in Tuesday after Woods’ earlier request for a stay of execution was denied on Monday.
‘WE NEED YOUR HELP. Nate Woods is about to be executed in Alabama. This is an injustice, and we need to make sure the public is aware. Please retweet, tag @GovernorKayIvey, and use the hashtag #SaveNate,’ he tweeted Tuesday.
The message was shared alongside the letter he sent to Ivey.
Martin Luther King III said in the Twitter post he sent the letter ‘after she denied my phone call’.
‘In just 2 days, your state, and the state I was born in, is set to kill a man who is very likely innocent,’ he writes in the letter.
Woods pictured at his trial: A jury convicted Woods in December 2005, and returned a non-unanimous verdict of 10-2 for the death penalty – even though prosecutors said he did not pull the trigger
Pamela Woods, sister of Nathaniel Woods, spoke to reporters outside Holman Correctional Facility ahead of his scheduled execution on Thursday
She held up a page from the trial transcript that she said shows her brother was surrendering when the three officers were shot
‘(Fifty-five) years ago, my father, Martin Luther King, Jr., (led) a march from Selma, Alabama, where he and fellow civil rights activists were killed and beaten.
‘Under your watch, Alabama is about to produce yet another tragic injustice.’
He later added in a tweet: ‘My father marched from Selma 55 years ago, where many were killed and beaten. He was fighting for justice his whole life.
‘Allowing the execution of Nate Woods would only show that we have not learned from the past. It’s time to be on the right side of history.’
King reiterated concerns that Woods never got a fair trial.
Martin Luther King III (pictured in January) stepped in Tuesday after Woods’ earlier request for a stay of execution was denied on Monday
King tweeted a message to the governor and sent a letter ‘after she denied my phone call’
King’s letter to Ivey reiterated concerns that Woods never got a fair trial
‘Killing this African-American man, whose case appears to have been strongly mishandled by the courts, could produce an irreversible injustice,’ King wrote in the letter. ‘Are you willing to allow a potentially innocent man to be executed?
‘So before you allow the execution of Nathaniel Woods, I urge you to grant him a reprieve. We must allow time to accurately review the new evidence.’
Democratic Senator Doug Jones said he had also shared his concerns over the execution with the Alabama judge.
‘Given the questions and mitigating issues involved in this case — and the finality of a death sentence — a delay is warranted to provide time for a thorough review of all the facts and circumstances to truly ensure that justice is done,’ he said.
Woods’ family has also long insisted that Woods is innocent of the charges.
His sister Pamela Woods stood outside the correctional facility Thursday ahead of his scheduled execution, holding up a page from the trial transcript that she said shows her brother was surrendering when the three officers were shot dead.
‘We want justice for the officers,’ she said, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
‘We want justice for my brother. It can’t be one-sided or for one group of people. You have to have justice for everyone. We want justice for Nathaniel.’
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey had given no indication of granting a reprieve as of Thursday morning. But in the eleventh hour a reprieve was granted
A Change.org petition had gained more than 91,000 signatures by Thursday afternoon calling for the execution to be stopped.
Last week, in an interview with The Appeal, the shooter again said there had been no conspiracy.
‘There was no plan to kill the police,’ said Spencer.
Alabama Governor Ivey had given no indication of granting a reprieve as of Thursday morning.
However, Alabama State Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement Wednesday that Woods had been ‘correctly found guilty and sentenced to death by a jury of his peers.’
‘The only injustice in the case of Nathaniel Woods is that which was inflicted on those four policemen that terrible day in 2004,’ he said.
In the eleventh hour a reprieve was granted by the Supreme Court – but was signed by Justice Clarence Thomas, suggesting Ivey had no plans to step in.
The stay came so close to the wire, Woods had already had his final meal of sweet potatoes, spinach, chicken patty, chicken leg quarter, cooked apples, fries, two oranges and orange flavored drink, according to a statement from Alabama Department of Corrections.
Spencer also faces the death penalty but his execution date has yet to be set.
Woods would have been the first person executed in Alabama state this year and the 67th since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
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