Alabama set to execute Nathaniel Woods for slaying of 3 officers

March 4 (UPI) — An Alabama man convicted in the shooting deaths of three police officers in 2004 is set to be executed Thursday despite not pulling the trigger in the slayings.

Nathaniel Woods, 44, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. at the Holman Correctional Facility near Atmore.

Woods’ attorneys sought a stay of execution for their client on the grounds that other death row inmates in Alabama who chose nitrogen hypoxia as their method of execution received temporary reprieves, but not those who selected lethal injection. The state has delayed setting execution dates for those who chose the former as officials review the protocol for the new method.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday declined to intervene in the case, saying “the last-minute nature” of his request for a stay was “unjustified.” The panel also said Woods had the opportunity to select nitrogen hypoxia as his method of execution like other inmates.

“That the state has chosen to offer an alternative method of execution and to honor the wishes of inmates who make that selection does not eliminate its interest in carrying out the sentences of inmates who did not elect that method,” the opinion said.

Woods was convicted in 2005 of multiple counts of capital murder and attempted murder for the deaths of officers Carlos Owen, Harley Chisholm III and Charles Bennett. A fourth officer also was shot but survived.

Woods’ roommate at the time, Kerry Spencer, admitted to shooting the officers after they responded to their Birmingham home. Prosecutors said Woods set up an ambush of the officers, but Spencer said he shot the officers in self-defense because they were assaulting Woods.

The Appeal reported in February that two of the officers — Chisholm and Owen — were known for “corruption and violence” and had a reputation for collecting money from known drug dealers in the city in exchange for protection.

Activists and supporters appealed to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to stop the execution. Martin Luther King III sent her a letter asking her to intervene.

“Killing this African American man, whose case appears to have been strongly mishandled by the courts, could produce an irreversible injustice,” he wrote. “Are you willing to allow a potentially innocent man to be executed?”

If his lethal injection is carried out Thursday, Woods would be the fifth person executed in the United States this year and the first in Alabama.

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