Nathaniel Woods executed by state of Alabama

Nathaniel Woods is on Alabama's death row and set to be executed Thursday for the 2004 deaths...
Nathaniel Woods is on Alabama's death row and set to be executed Thursday for the 2004 deaths of three Birmingham police officers.(Source: Alabama Department of Corrections)
Updated: Mar. 5, 2020 at 10:22 PM CST
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ATMORE, Ala. (WAFF) - Nathaniel Woods was executed Thursday night following a brief stay of execution.

The temporary stay of execution was issued around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, but the order was denied by the Supreme Court shortly before 8 p.m.

The execution by lethal injection was carried out at 8:38 p.m. at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility. Woods was pronounced dead at 9:01 p.m.

Woods did not give a final statement, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

Gov. Kay Ivey released the following statement:

"On June 17, 2004, four Birmingham police officers went to the apartment of Nathaniel Woods, a known drug dealer, to issue a warrant of arrest. Unfortunately, only one of those officers lived to recount the horrendous assault upon him and his fellow officers.

As explained by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, the evidence showed that Woods was an integral participant in the intentional murder of these three officers. On the day the officers were killed, Mr. Woods talked to others about killing police officers; he taunted the officers and lured them into his apartment, where he knew they would be met by gunfire; he pointed the gunman to the third police officer; and he escaped with the gunman.

Each officer died of multiple gunshot wounds. Two officers were shot in the back and one in the head, and none of the officers had an opportunity to discharge return fire. In fact, one officer’s weapon was still holstered.

The state offered the testimony of 39 witnesses at Woods’ capital murder trial, including Officer Michael Collins, 25 other law enforcement officers, and forensic experts. 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.

A jury of Mr. Woods’ peers convicted him of four counts of capital murder. In the past 15 years, his conviction has been reviewed at least nine times, and no court has found any reason to overturn the jury’s decision.

Under Alabama law, someone who helps kill a police officer is just as guilty as the person who directly commits the crime. Since 1983, Alabama has executed two individuals for being an accomplice to capital murder.

After thorough and careful consideration of the facts surrounding the case, the initial jury’s decision, the many legal challenges and reviews, I concluded that the state of Alabama should carry out Mr. Woods’ lawfully imposed sentence this evening.

This is not a decision that I take lightly, but I firmly believe in the rule of law and that justice must be served. My thoughts and most sincere prayers are for the families of Officers Chisholm, Owen and Bennett. May the God of all comfort be with these families as they continue to find peace and heal from this terrible crime."

It will be 16 years this June since the three Birmingham police officers were shot and killed.

Woods was arrested and later convicted.

A co-defendant, Kerry Spencer, says he was the one who shot the officers. But under Alabama law, it doesn’t matter who actually fired the shots.

In this case, the prosecution said Woods was a mastermind and plotted to help kill the officers.

WAFF 48 News spoke with one of Wood’s attorneys, Lauren Faranio. She said there is no evidence of a plot. Fariano says the state appointed lawyers Wood had failed him. She says the state offered Woods a plea deal, which they rejected because they were under the impression Woods wasn’t eligible for the death penalty.

The attorney general denies a plea deal was ever offered.

Tuesday, Fariano presented 60-page report to the governor’s council. She said she hopes the governor puts a stop to this.

“We find it repulsive that people are committing violent acts and murdering police officers. It’s horrible. The problem is I think that Steve Marshall has used that wave of violence as an excuse to execute in innocent man. Until they stick a needle in his arm, there is a chance to save him and we will hold on to that hope. And we will keep pushing and make sure this case gets the attention it deserves,” Fariano said.

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