Alabama set to carry out its first execution during pandemic

Alabama set to carry out its first execution during pandemic
Willie B. Smith, convicted for a 1991 murder in Jefferson County, is set to be executed on Feb. 11, 2021. (Source: Alabama Department of Correction)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama is preparing to execute an inmate by lethal injection in what would be the state’s first death sentence carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Willie B. Smith III is scheduled to be put to death Thursday for the shotgun slaying of Sharma Ruth Johnson three decades ago.

U.S. District Judge Austin Huffaker, Jr. on Tuesday denied Smith’s lawyers request for a stay.

Attorneys for the 51-year-old Smith have sought a stay arguing that the pandemic and the prohibition on in-person prison visits have made it hard to adequately represent him.

Johnson was abducted, robbed and killed in Birmingham in 1991.

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