The Latest: Alabama executes man who killed clerk in 1994

AP News
|
Posted: Dec 09, 2016 12:16 AM
The Latest: Alabama executes man who killed clerk in 1994

ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on the scheduled execution of an Alabama inmate (all times local):

11:15 p.m.

A man convicted of killing a convenience store clerk has been put to death in Alabama, hours after the state's execution plans were twice put on temporary hold by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Authorities say 45-year-old Ronald Bert Smith Jr. was pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m. CST Thursday after a lethal injection at a southwest Alabama prison.

Smith heaved and coughed for 13 minutes during the 30-minute-long execution. He clenched his fists and raised his head during the early part of the procedure.

A prison guard performed two consciousness checks before administering the lethal drugs. During the first one, Smith moved his arm.

Smith was convicted of capital murder in the fatal shooting of Casey Wilson at a Huntsville convenience store in 1994.

___

9:15 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has again ruled that Alabama can move forward with the execution of an inmate convicted of killing a convenience store clerk more than two decades ago.

The Supreme Court ruled late Thursday that the execution could proceed, after issuing two temporary delays earlier in the night.

Ronald Bert Smith Jr. is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 9:45 p.m. CST. Smith was convicted of murder in the 1994 shooting death of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson during a robbery.

Smith's lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to halt the execution plan to review whether a judge should have been able to override the jury's recommendation and impose the death penalty. The jury had recommended life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote.

The state argued the sentence was appropriate and legally sound.

The latest decision from the court capped a whirlwind of filings and orders Thursday evening. The execution was originally scheduled for 6 p.m. CST but was delayed twice. Four justices wanted to issue a permanent halt, but five were needed.

Smith's attorneys made another application for a stay after the court's latest decision.

____

8 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has again temporarily halted the planned execution of an Alabama inmate.

In Washington, the court issued a second temporary stay late Thursday after attorneys for inmate Ronald Bert Smith, Jr. requested that the justices reconsider an earlier decision to let the execution proceed.

Smith, now 45, was convicted of murder in the 1994 shooting death of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson during a robbery.

Smith's lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to halt the execution plan to review whether a judge should have been able to override the jury's recommendation and impose the death penalty. The jury had recommended life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote.

The court narrowly ruled Thursday evening that the execution could proceed, although four liberal justices said they would have voted to grant the stay, according to an order emailed by the court giving no further explanation.

Smith's attorneys swiftly asked for a reconsideration

____

7:30 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said the planned execution of an Alabama inmate can proceed.

The court narrowly ruled Thursday evening that the execution could proceed. Four liberal justices said they would have voted to grant the stay, according to an order emailed by the court giving no further explanation.

Forty-five-year-old Ronald Bert Smith Jr. is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday evening.

Smith was convicted of murder in the 1994 death of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson, who was shot in the head during a robbery.

Smith's lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to halt the execution to review whether a judge should have been able to override the jury's recommendation and impose the death penalty. The jury had recommended life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had delayed the 6 p.m. CST execution to consider the request. Prison officials said Smith's execution would be carried out later Thursday evening.

____

6:15 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a temporary stay of the scheduled execution of an Alabama man convicted of killing a store clerk more than two decades ago.

The stay came shortly before 45-year-old Ronald Bert Smith Jr. was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Thursday evening.

A statement signed by Justice Clarence Thomas said the stay was ordered "pending further order" of the court. The stay was expected to give justices time to consider the inmate's request to halt the execution.

Further explanation of the court was awaited Thursday evening before the inmate's death warrant was to expire at midnight CST.

Lawyers had argued to the Supreme Court that a judge at Smith's 1995 trial had overridden a jury recommendation in imposing the death sentence, calling that fundamentally unfair. The jury had recommended a sentence of life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote.

Lawyers for the state had argued in court filings that the judge was in his right to impose the sentence he chose.

Smith was convicted of murder in the 1994 death of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson.

____

4:50 p.m.

Alabama's governor says he won't stop Thursday evening's scheduled execution of an inmate convicted of killing a convenience store clerk.

Gov. Robert Bentley confirmed through a spokeswoman that he won't intervene but the aide declined further comment. Alabama governors have seldom intervened in past executions.

Forty-five-year-old Ronald Bert Smith, Jr. is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday for his conviction in the 1994 slaying of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson. A jury recommended life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote, but a judge sentenced Smith to death.

Smith's lawyers had asked the governor for clemency, arguing the judge's override of the jury was fundamentally unfair.

Smith's attorneys also made the same argument in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block the execution, but there was no immediate response from the court.

Smith had a final meal of fried chicken and French fries, took Holy Communion and visited with his parents and son on Thursday.

___

3:43 a.m.

Alabama is preparing to execute an inmate convicted in the 1994 killing of a convenience store clerk.

Forty-five-year-old Ronald Bert Smith, Jr. is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday.

A jury recommended life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote, but a judge sentenced Smith to death.

Smith's attorneys asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the execution, saying a January ruling raises legal questions about Alabama's allowance of judicial override.

Smith was convicted in the 1994 slaying of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson. Lawyers for the state said Smith pistol-whipped Wilson when he wouldn't open the cash register and then shot him through the head.

Smith's lawyers wrote in a clemency petition that Smith was a former Eagle Scout whose life spiraled downward because of alcoholism.