ATMORE, Ala. — An Alabama inmate convicted of killing a man during a 1993 robbery when he was a teenager was executed Thursday by lethal injection.
Casey McWhorter, 49, was pronounced dead at 6:56 p.m. at a southwest Alabama prison, authorities said. McWhorter was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death for his role in the February 18, 1993, robbery and shooting death of Edward Lee Williams, 34.
Prosecutors said McWhorter, who was three months past his 18th birthday at the time of the killing, conspired with two younger teenagers, including Williams’ 15-year-old son, to steal money and other items at Williams’ home and then kill him.
The jury that convicted McWhorter recommended the death penalty in a 10-2 vote, which a judge, who had the final decision, imposed, according to court records. The youngest teens — 16-year-old Edward Lee Williams Jr. and Daniel Miner — were sentenced to life in prison, according to court records.
“It’s a little unfortunate that we had to wait so long for justice to be served, but it was served,” the victim’s brother, Bert Williams, told reporters after the execution. He said the lethal injection allowed McWhorter to die peacefully, unlike the violent end his brother endured.
Prison officials opened the execution chamber curtain at 6:30 p.m. McWhorter, who was strapped to the gurney with the IV lines already attached, moved slightly as the procedure began, rubbing his fingers, but his breathing slowed until it was over. is no longer visible.
“I would like to say that I love my mother and my family,” McWhorter said in his final words. “I would like to say to the victim’s family that I am sorry. I hope you find peace.
McWhorter also used his final words to verbally lash out at his tormentor, the prison warden who faced domestic violence charges decades ago, saying, “it does not escape me that a habitual abuser of women conducts this procedure.”
Prosecutors said McWhorter and Miner went to the Williams home with guns and made homemade silencers out of a pillow and a milk jug. When the elder Williams arrived home and discovered the teens, he grabbed the rifle held by Miner. They began to struggle and McWhorter fired the first shot at Williams, according to a summary of the crime filed in court. Williams was shot a total of 11 times.
April Williams, the victim’s daughter, said her father should now be spending time with his grandchildren and enjoying his retirement.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him and how much I miss him,” April Williams said in a statement read by Corrections Commissioner John Q. Hamm. “Casey McWhorter had several hours in this house to change his mind and stop killing my father.”
Defense attorneys had unsuccessfully sought a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court, citing McWhorter’s age at the time of the crime. They argued that the death sentence was unconstitutional because Alabama law does not consider a person a legal adult until they turn 19.
McWhorter, who called himself a “confused kid” at the time of the killing, said he would encourage young people going through tough times to take a moment before making a mistake that could change their lives, as he did.
“Anything that comes to mind that doesn’t sit well with them at first, take a few seconds to think about it,” he told The Associated Press in an interview last week. “Because one bad choice, one stupid mistake, one stupid decision can change your life – and the lives of those you care about – forever.” McWhorter maintained that he did not intend to kill Williams. Attorney General Steve Marshall said that while Williams lay wounded on the ground, McWhorter shot him in the head.
McWhorter spent nearly 30 years on Alabama’s death row, making him one of the longest-serving inmates among the state’s 165 death row inmates.
“Edward Lee Williams’ life was taken from him by Casey A. McWhorter, and tonight Mr. McWhorter held himself accountable,” Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement.
The Rev. Jeff Hood, a death row minister who works with an anti-death penalty group, accompanied McWhorter into the execution chamber as a spiritual advisor. “It was not lost on me that he was a murderer, just like all Alabamians tonight. I pray that we all learn to stop killing each other,” Hood said in a statement.
The Alabama execution took place the same night Texas executed a man convicted of strangling a 5-year-old girl kidnapped from a Walmart store nearly 22 years ago.
McWhorter is the second inmate put to death this year in Alabama, after the state suspended executions for several months to review procedures following a series of botched or problematic executions. James Barber, 64, was executed by lethal injection in July for beating a woman to death in 2001.
Alabama plans in January to make the nation’s first attempt to put an inmate to death using nitrogen gas. Nitrogen hypoxia was authorized as a method of execution in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Mississippi, but no state used it.
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