Once again, Alabama is in the national news. And just like the wild senate race between disgraced pedophile Roy Moore and unemployed ex-Trump bootlicker Jeff Sessions, it was not for something positive.
Civil Rights activists had been begging Alabama’s notoriously hard-hearted Governor and closet day-time drunk Kay Ivey to stop the execution of Nathaniel Woods. Even the son of Martin Luther King Jr. weighed in saying that if Ivey did not halt the execution, her state would be “executing an innocent man.” Ivey apparently didn’t see anything wrong with that.
And it’s saying something that the ultra-rightwing United States Supreme Court did see something wrong with it enough to issue a temporary stay of execution. Now, sure this is reason to celebrate. But keep in mind that the order is temporary and–even worse–no Republican politician inside Alabama was going to lift a finger to stop this.
[Just for those that may be unfamiliar with the case, Woods was on Death Row because he had the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Birmingham police officers were outside a house he was in, and even though Woods had surrendered, his friend inside the house started blazing. Yes, his ex-associate is a brutal cop killer who deserves to be on death row, but Woods did not kill any cops or conspire to or intend to. It really is just a case of being arrested along with a maniac, not a traditional death row case at all. The reason none of this was reversed on appeal is because Woods wasn’t allowed to introduce new evidence on appeal, and has had one incompetent attorney after another dealing with this case.]
Now that the technicalities are out of the way, I’m not here to argue that Woods is innocent or that he may be or that we believe he is. He is innocent. There is nothing to debate. He did not kill anyone and no one is even saying he did. The crime he was to be executed for is primarily for killing an officer in the commission of another crime, but that is extraordinarily weak as it could not even remotely be proven he had any idea his friend would start blasting once the officers entered the house. There was no evidence produced that said he did know, just a prosecutor who had three dead cops and could not possibly let it go with only one man on death row. So he put two on there instead.
But the exact specifics are irrelevant. What’s more important is that Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said Woods “was convicted by a jury of his peers” meaning he saw nothing wrong with killing someone who had not killed or conspired or intended to kill anyone. Of course, Marshall was the district attorney for my home county before getting plucked from obscurity by disgraced ex-Governor Robert Bentley to fill the AG role for another disgraced Alabama politician, and–of course–Kay Ivey is only Governor because Bentley was forced to resign or be investigated for financial crimes.
As you can see, the Republican politicians of Alabama should probably be sharing a cell with Woods rather than deciding when to kill him (“the choices for a black man in connection with a white cop killing are ‘sooner than later’ or ‘right now'”), and so it’s strange–but wholly expected–that Marshall and Ivey would be so merciless. It’s also not shocking that Ivey would do absolutely nothing, because that has been her preferred method of governing on anything except greedy attempts to swindle education funding or teacher pensions.
[That’s also her method of campaigning for Governor too–avoiding even having a debate with her Democratic challenger Walt Maddox last year, and basically hitting on the strategy that the less voters were exposed to her directly, the more likely they are to vote for her.]
Update: Wow, it was a shockingly small amount of time between when I wrote this story and when the Supreme Court officially declined to fully stop the execution, and Nathaniel Woods was executed a few hours later than he would’ve been. So the SC didn’t “save” anyway so much as prove there were enough irregularities in the case that somebody should’ve saved him–and then declined to anyway.