Fandom Friday — The Case of Willie B. Smith

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By — Njeri Jackson

In the state of Alabama, Willie B. Smith is currently on death row for the state and was set to be killed through lethal injection. If his execution carries out, it will be the first case of a state execution in 2021, and one of the few done in the Covid pandemic

Recent appeals claiming that Smith didn’t get required assistance with forms regarding the timing of his execution are currently being evaluated, halting the execution for the time being. An appellate court has stayed the lethal injection for the inmate for a week to make a decision regarding his claims and the 11th Court of Appeals has issued the stays the night of february 10th.

The appeal was claimed because Alabama had authorized nitrogen hypoxia as a method for execution and had given inmates a short time to pick that as their method for execution. The appeals are saying that under the Disabilities Act giving aid to those intellectually disabled is being violated since they state there was little communication to the inmates of this. The counterclaim from the attorney general is the question of whether Smith is actually considered disabled or not.

There was also an appeal on allowing Smith’s personal pastor to be there at the time of his execution which wasn’t approved by the appellate court. The district judge had previously said that the state couldn’t execute Smith because his pastor wasn’t there.

Smith was scheduled to be put to death the night of February 11th for the killing of Sharma Ruth Johnson in 1991. He took her at gunpoint after she was waiting to use an ATM in Birmingham, AL. He put her in the trunk of his car, took money from her card from the same ATM, then proceeded to drive off with her and shoot her in the back of the head at a cemetery. He was convicted by a jury in 1992.