Willie B. Smith was executed on Thursday 21st October 2021 after he was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Sharma Ruth Johnson in Birmingham, Alabama in 1991.
Willie B. Smith III was executed for the 1991 murder of Sharma Ruth Johnson
An intellectually disabled man convicted of the brutal 1991 kidnap and murder of a woman opted to have snacks instead of the last meal.
Willie B Smith refused breakfast, lunch, and a final meal yesterday – the day of his execution.
Instead, he decided to eat barbecue chips and M&Ms, washed down with coke before the US state of Birmingham, Alabama put him to death.
Smith was killed by the state for abducting Sharma Ruth Johnson at gunpoint at a cash machine and then shooting her dead after stealing less than $100 from her, said prosecutors.
The day before his execution by lethal injection Smith was visited by his spiritual advisor and lawyers, according to prison spokesperson Linda Mays.
The execution took place at around 9.32pm and a press witness said Smith did not give final words but was accompanied by his spiritual advisor.
In February, the US Supreme Court blocked his execution on the grounds that Smith wanted his pastor present in the execution chamber.
But on 17 October, a preliminary injunction seeking to stop his execution regarding his choice of execution method was denied in federal court.
Court records show Smith had expressed his desire to be executed by nitrogen suffocation, but the state decline to grant him that mercy.
His attorneys had urged the courts to block lethal injection plans, arguing that because he suffered from “significant cognitive deficiencies” and had an IQ of between 64 and 72, that he had been unable to fill out a form requesting the alternative form of death.
A trial on his disability claim had been scheduled for 2022 before Judge Emily Marks, a Trump appointee, dismissed the lawsuit on technical grounds, WKBN reports.
Governor Kay Ivey said after the execution: “ Sharma Ruth Johnson was abducted at gunpoint, threatened while in the trunk of the car, terrorized, assaulted, and ultimately, Willie B Smith brutally killed her.
“In that final moment of this young lady’s short life, Mr. Smith, after learning Ms. Johnson was related to a law enforcement officer, made the choice to put a shotgun to her head, stealing this woman’s future.
“Even after these heinous crimes were committed, Mr. Smith made the choice to burn the vehicle to hide his fingerprints.
Sharm was the sibling of a police officer
“He knew full well he was doing wrong. This was an absolutely horrendous act against Ms. Johnson. It is also an attack on our men and women in blue.
“In dealing with this unimaginable and tragic loss, her loved ones have endured years of Mr. Smith attempting to avoid due punishment and then a delayed execution earlier this year.
“Mr. Smith had more time on death row than Ms. Johnson had in this life.”
The governor added: “The evidence, in this case, was overwhelming, and justice has been rightfully served.
“The carrying out of Mr. Smith’s sentence sends the message that the state of Alabama will not tolerate these murderous acts. I pray that the loved ones of Ms. Johnson can be closer to finding peace.”
Not everyone has such an Old Testament view of law and order as Governor Ivey.
The American Civil Liberties Union strongly argues against the state’s right to sentence a person to death, noting that since 1973, over 156 people have been released from death row in 26 states because of innocence.
Across the US, at least one person is exonerated for every 10 that are executed.
The organization argues: “Capital punishment is an intolerable denial of civil liberties and is inconsistent with the fundamental values of our democratic system.
“The death penalty is uncivilized in theory and unfair and inequitable in practice.
“Through litigation, legislation, and advocacy against this barbaric and brutal institution, we strive to prevent executions and seek the abolition of capital punishment.”
Author: Seyi Awoleye
Los-Angeles, CA, USA