Sister of executed man confronts governor: ‘Governor Ivey, you killed my brother’

Published 9:39 am Friday, March 13, 2020

The sister of an executed inmate, whose case drew national scrutiny because he was not the gunman, confronted Alabama’s governor on Thursday for not stopping the lethal injection.

The sister of Nathaniel Woods approached Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey as she spoke with reporters about the U.S. Census, WSFA reported. Woods was put to death March 5 by lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court and the governor both declined to intervene.

“You killed my brother. Governor Ivey, you killed my brother,” Pamela Woods told Ivey after approaching her at a news conference at the Alabama Capitol.

The governor was then quickly escorted away by her security officer.

Woods was convicted of capital murder in the 2004 slayings of three Birmingham police officers. Authorities acknowledged he was not the triggerman in the slayings, but prosecutors maintained he was a culpable accomplice.

Alabama’s first execution of the year came after a last-minute bid to stop it. That included support from the son of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., and others who argued it was unfair to execute a man who didn’t pull the trigger in the slaying and whose trial was riddled with problems.

The U.S. Supreme Court turned down an 11th-hour request to stay the execution. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall had also publicly urged to let the execution proceed.

Kerry Spencer, who confessed to pulling the trigger, also drew a death sentence and remains on Alabama’s death row.

Woods told reporters Thursday that her brother had received bad legal counsel.

Testimony showed the officers approached a small house where Woods and Spencer were believed to be dealing drugs; at least two other people were also inside. State lawyers wrote in court filings that Woods said he was surrendering to officers and soon after Spencer opened fire with a high-powered rifle. At Woods’ 2005 trial, a prosecutor told jurors that Woods was the “bait” and lured officers into the apartment.

Ivey denied clemency in the case ahead of the execution. Ivey’s general counsel sent Woods’ attorneys a letter before the execution saying the governor’s review of the case determined clemency was “unwarranted.”

In a statement after the execution, Ivey said, “there is no evidence, and no argument has been made, that Nathaniel Woods tried to stop the gunman from committing these heinous crimes.”

“In fact, he later bragged about his participation in these horrific murders. As such, the jury did not view Woods’ acts as those of an innocent bystander; they believed that he was a fully engaged participant,” the statement said.

Supporters had waged a last-minute appeal to block the execution as the case drew national attention.

“‘He is actually innocent,” Pamela Woods told reporters outside the prison before her brother’s execution. “Kerry Spencer the actual shooter has stated many times that he did it on his own with no help from anyone.”

Spencer told The Appeal in an article about the case that Woods was “100% innocent.”

No execution date has been set for Spencer.