Willie B. Smith executed in Alabama prison

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 9:54 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2021 at 11:01 PM CDT
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ATMORE, Ala. (WBRC) - Death row inmate Willie B. Smith III has been executed at an Atmore prison after being convicted of kidnapping and murder of a woman in Birmingham.

Smith was sentenced to death after kidnapping 22-year-old Sharma Ruth Johnson in 1991. Prosecutors said Smith abducted Johnson at gunpoint from an ATM, stole $80 from her, and shot her in a cemetery. He was executed at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility.

Smith’s attorney applied for a stay of execution, causing a momentary delay. The U.S. Supreme Court denied the request. You can read the statement on the denial of the stay of execution here.

Governor Kay Ivey released a statement on Smith’s execution:

“Sharma Ruth Johnson was abducted at gunpoint, threatened while in the trunk of the car, terrorized, assaulted, and ultimately, Willie B. Smith, III brutally killed her. In that final moment of this young lady’s short life, Mr. Smith, after learning Ms. Johnson was related to a law enforcement officer, made the choice to put a shotgun to her head, stealing this woman’s future.

“Even after these heinous crimes were committed, Mr. Smith made the choice to burn the vehicle to hide his fingerprints. He knew full well he was doing wrong. This was an absolutely horrendous act against Ms. Johnson. It is also an attack on our men and women in blue.

“In dealing with this unimaginable and tragic loss, her loved ones have endured years of Mr. Smith attempting to avoid due punishment and then a delayed execution earlier this year. Mr. Smith had more time on death row than Ms. Johnson had in this life.

“The evidence in this case was overwhelming, and justice has been rightfully served. The carrying out of Mr. Smith’s sentence sends the message that the state of Alabama will not tolerate these murderous acts. I pray that the loved ones of Ms. Johnson can be closer to finding peace.”

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