Saturday, January 23, 2016

Alabama executes man for 1992 murder

The 3rd Execution of 2016
Alabama death row inmate Christopher Eugene Brooks was executed Thursday night for the 1992 slaying of a Homewood woman after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his request for a stay of execution, according to the Birmingham News .
Brooks was pronounced dead at 6:38 p.m. in the execution chamber at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore. He was the 57th death row inmate executed in Alabama since executions resumed in 1983 after an unofficial more than decade-long nationwide moratorium ended. He was the first person executed in Alabama since 2013.
Brooks final words included: "I hope this brings closure to everybody." To the two friends, a spiritual advisor, and his lawyers who witnessed the execution he said they were a "Godsend" and that "I will take you with me in my heart"... "I'll see you soon. Bye. I love y'all."
Brooks, however, did not admit guilt in his statement.
After he was brought into the execution chamber, the curtain opened to witnesses at 6:06 p.m. and closed at 6:30 p.m. The exact time of death was 6:38 p.m.
A prison chaplain held Brooks' hand and appeared to pray with him as the first drug, a sedative, was administered. Brooks' eyes closed, his mouth gaped open and his breathing slowed. By 6:19 p.m. there was no detectable breathing. A prison captain pinched his upper left arm and pulled open his eyelid to check for consciousness before the final two drugs were administered.
After the execution Alabama Prison Commissioner Jeff Dunn said the execution with the controversial sedative drug midazolam "went exactly as planned."
Brooks did not appear to struggle during the administration of the drugs. His attorneys and other inmates had claimed the first drug in the cocktail does not put the condemned inmate in deep enough sleep to prevent pain when the other two drugs are administered.
Dunn said that there are no other executions currently planned, but the prison system does have the drugs available to conduct more. He said the same drug combination has been used in other states.
Dunn also read letters from victim Jo Deann Campbell's two sisters and mother, all of whom witnessed the execution.
Mona Campbell, her mother, said the execution does not give her closure and will not bring back her youngest daughter. She said she hoped Brooks had "made peace with God." Jo Deann's sister, Fran Romano and Corinne Campbell also issued statements.
"Just as God forgives me for my sins I pray for mercy for this man's soul," Corinne wrote.
During the execution Brooks' spiritual adviser held a Bible and read quietly from it.
Brooks kept his focus primarily on the witness box where his friends, three attorneys, and the five media representatives sat. He glanced once to the victims' family witness box when he hoped everyone would get closure.
Minutes before he was to die, word spread that the U.S. Supreme Court had denied Brook's request to stay the execution. Justice Stephen Breyer dissented from the ruling.
Dunn said prison officials were notified of the justices' decision at 5:55 p.m., five minutes before the execution was scheduled to begin.
"Christopher Eugene Brooks was sentenced to death in accordance with Alabama's procedures, which allow a jury to render an "advisory verdict" that "is not binding on the court," the dissent states.
"Moreover, we have recognized that Alabama's sentencing scheme is "much like" and "based on Florida's sentencing scheme," Breyer wrote.
The request for the stay was made to Justice Clarence Thomas. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg concurred with Thomas' decision to deny the stay.
Brooks, 43, was convicted in the December 1992 rape and murder of 23-year-old Jo Deann Campbell. Investigators linked Brooks to the crime through DNA, fingerprints, and Campbell's car and other items taken from her Homewood apartment, including a credit card he had used. Her partially clothed body had been found under her bed and she had been beaten with a barbell.
No one protested the execution in an area set aside for vigils, according to reporter Casey Toner. Other protests were held around the state, including a small gathering of death penalty opponents in a Birmingham park.
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