Woods executed at Holman Correctional Facility

Published 10:09 pm Thursday, March 5, 2020

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A Birmingham man was was executed tonight by lethal injection at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility just outside Atmore, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

Public Information Specialist Samantha Rose said in a release that the execution of Nathaniel Woods, 43, was carried out at 8:38 p.m., and Woods was pronounced dead at 9:01 p.m.

According to the ADOC, Woods was sentenced to death for the 2004 capital murder of three Birmingham police officers in Jefferson County.

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Woods didn’t give a final statement, Rose said in the release.

Gov. Kay Ivey released the following statement after the execution was carried out.

“On June 17, 2004, four Birmingham police officers went to the apartment of Nathaniel Woods, a known drug dealer, to issue a warrant of arrest. Unfortunately, only one of those officers lived to recount the horrendous assault upon him and his fellow officers,” Ivey said in the statement. “As explained by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, the evidence showed that Woods was an integral participant in the intentional murder of these three officers. On the day the officers were killed, Mr. Woods talked to others about killing police officers; he taunted the officers and lured them into his apartment, where he knew they would be met by gunfire; he pointed the gunman to the third police officer; and he escaped with the gunman. 

“Each officer died of multiple gunshot wounds. Two officers were shot in the back and one in the head, and none of the officers had an opportunity to discharge return fire. In fact, one officer’s weapon was still holstered. 

“The state offered the testimony of 39 witnesses at Woods’ capital murder trial, including Officer Michael Collins, 25 other law enforcement officers, and forensic experts. There is no evidence, and no argument has been made, that Nathaniel Woods tried to stop the gunman from committing these heinous crimes. In fact, he later bragged about his participation in these horrific murders. As such, the jury did not view Woods’ acts as those of an innocent bystander; they believed that he was a fully engaged participant. 

“A jury of Mr. Woods’ peers convicted him of four counts of capital murder. In the past 15 years, his conviction has been reviewed at least nine times, and no court has found any reason to overturn the jury’s decision. 

“Under Alabama law, someone who helps kill a police officer is just as guilty as the person who directly commits the crime. Since 1983, Alabama has executed two individuals for being an accomplice to capital murder.

“After thorough and careful consideration of the facts surrounding the case, the initial jury’s decision, the many legal challenges and reviews, I concluded that the state of Alabama should carry out Mr. Woods’ lawfully imposed sentence this evening. 

“This is not a decision that I take lightly, but I firmly believe in the rule of law and that justice must be served. My thoughts and most sincere prayers are for the families of Officers Chisholm, Owen and Bennett. May the God of all comfort be with these families as they continue to find peace and heal from this terrible crime.”

Earlier today, Woods’s counsel filed a motion to stay his execution in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

According to the motion, the concern of the unanimity of jury verdicts was questioned based on a new rule of law when the opinion or Ramos v. Louisiana is issued.

The question presented in Ramos is ‘[w]hether the 14th Amendment fully incorporates the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a unanimous verdict?’ (Petition for Cert.) In Woods’ 

trial, the jury recommended a sentence of death 10-2, and the trial judge sentenced Woods to death. (Sentencing Order, attached as Exhibit A). If the Supreme Court determines that unanimous jury verdicts are required by the Sixth Amendment and incorporates that requirement as to the states, this new rule would be retroactive, as discussed below. Under these circumstances, Woods would be able to make a prima facie showing that his claim relied on a new, retroactive constitutional rule under 28,” the motion read.

Woods was sentenced to death on Dec. 9, 2005, by the Jefferson Circuit Court, in Case Nos. CC-04-4133, CC-04-4134, CC-04-4135, and CC-04-4384, on four charges of capital murder (for the shooting death of three police officers, and the latter for intentionally causing the death of the three officers “by one act or pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct by shooting them with a firearm,” according to the motion.

Woods filed for a petition in October 2016, and was denied an appeal in February 2019, according to the motion.

The U.S. Supreme Court lifted the stay on Woods’ execution approximately an hour ago, according to reports. According to the Montgomery Advertiser’s website, Woods didn’t kill the officers, and that his attorneys missed key deadlines in his appeal.

Rhonda Hemdb, the sister of Harley Chisholm, one of the officers killed on June 17, 2004, her loved ones took their last breath while upholding the law to make (Birmingham) a safer place, according to Montgomery Advertiser reporter Brian Lyman’s Twitter feed.

“Our families will not have closure until Kerry Spencer’s execution date. May God have mercy on their souls. Until then may our loved ons rest in peace.”