Alabama inmate Joe Nathan James Jr., convicted of killing his girlfriend in 1994, was executed Thursday despite numerous requests from the victim’s family to let him serve life in prison instead.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied James’ request for a stay – a court order to suspend the enactment of a court judgment – and he was executed by lethal injection.
The victim’s family made statements in court documents and to news outlets before the execution and afterward about their thoughts on the sentencing. Friend of the family and state rep Juandalynn Givan said, “Today is a tragic day for our family. We are having to relive the hurt that this caused us many years ago,”
The family continued, “We hoped the state wouldn’t take a life simply because a life was taken, and we have forgiven Mr. Joe Nathan James Jr. for his atrocities toward our family. … We pray that God allows us to find healing after today and that one day our criminal justice system will listen to the cries of families like ours even if it goes against what the state wishes,”
The victim’s daughter, Terrlyn Hall, told ABC, “She [her mother] was a loving, forgiving person. I’m quite sure if she was here today, or if she were in this situation, she would want to forgive.” Her brother even said, “He [James] did a horrible thing. He has suffered enough, and I don’t think that taking his life is gonna make our life any better.”
Despite the numerous pleas and wishes of the family, according to USA Today, James was executed just after 9 PM.
James was arrested and convicted of capital murder in 1994 after shooting and killing his girlfriend Faith Hall. Prosecutors said that James stalked and harassed her before he broke into Hall’s friend’s apartment and shot her three times, killing her.
“Faith Hall, the victim of repetitive harassment, serious threats and ultimately, cold-blooded murder, was taken from this earth far too soon at the hands of Joe Nathan James, Jr. Now, after two convictions, a unanimous jury decision and nearly three decades on death row, Mr. James has been executed for capital murder, and justice has been served for Faith Hall,” Alabama Gov. Ivey explained why she didn’t intervene to stop that execution regardless of the family’s wishes. She asserted that it sent an “unmistakable message that Alabama stands with victims of domestic violence.”
Alabama has 166 people on death row, according to the Alabama Dept. of Corrections.
A study done by Pew Research Center said that “60% of U.S. adults favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder,” but cited that up to 75% worried about wrongful convictions of death row inmates.