Alabama man executed for role in 2004 killing of three police officers
Nathaniel Woods was executed despite outcries from groups and celebrities that he was not the one who fired the bullets during the 2004 incident in which three police officers were killed at his Birmingham apartment.
An Alabama man was put to death by lethal injection on Thursday for his role in the 2004 killing of three police officers at his Birmingham apartment during a drug bust, state corrections officials have said. Nathaniel Woods was executed despite outcries from groups and celebrities that he was not the one who fired the fatal bullets.
Woods, 43, was pronounced dead at 9.01 p.m. central standard time at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, said Samantha Rose of the state's department of corrections. The condemned man did not make a final statement, she said.
Woods and his friend Kerry Spencer were convicted for the 2004 murders of Birmingham police officers Carlos Owen, Harley Chisholm and Charles Bennett.
On the morning of July 17, 2004, Woods and Spencer got into a "hostile, profanity-laced" argument with Owen and police officer Michael Collins and threatened them, court documents showed.
Later that day, the officers went to Woods' apartment along with Chisholm and Bennett to serve him a warrant and arrest him for dealing drugs and were met by a spray of gunfire. Owen, Chisholm and Bennett were killed and Collins was wounded, according to court documents.
Prosecutors said it was Spencer who had opened fire, but accused Woods of being an accomplice to the murders. In December 2005, both men were convicted of capital murder and attempted murder and sentenced to death. Spencer remains on death row.
Spencer said Woods was innocent. Just hours before the latter was slated to die, his attorneys petitioned the Supreme Court to block the execution, citing concerns about the method by which he was to be executed.
The case garnered the attention of Martin Luther King III, the son of the late civil rights leader, who wrote a letter to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, 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 in the letter he posted on Twitter on Wednesday.
The office of the governor did not comment.
In a phone interview from William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Escambia County, Spencer told CNN that he alone fatally shot the three officers in 2004 when they stormed the crack house where he was sleeping. A fourth officer was shot but survived. Woods wasn't involved, he said. In fact, Spencer said, Woods ran when the gunfire erupted.
"Nate is absolutely innocent," said Spencer, who also is on Alabama's death row. "That man didn't know I was going to shoot anybody just like I didn't know I was going to shoot anybody that day, period."