Despite pleas from his victim’s family, Alabama executed Joe Nathan James Jr., on Thursday night.
James’ death came at 9:27 p.m., some three hours after the scheduled execution time. Reporters at Holman Prison in Atmore said Alabama Department of Corrections officials declined to provide an explanation for the lengthy delay.
For several days leading up to James’ execution, the family of Faith Hall, who James was convicted of murdering in 1994, issued pleas for Gov. Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall and others to intervene and not carry through with the execution. Ivey declined to intervene and both state and federal courts denied James’ appeals to stop his execution.
Hall’s daughters had planned to attend the execution, hear James’ final words – hoping for an apology – and then leave. However, ADOC officials told the Hall family that it would be impossible for them to leave, because of prison protocols.
“Today is a tragic day for our family,” the Hall family wrote in a statement. “We are having to relive the hurt that this caused us many years ago. We’ve asked Governor Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall to hear our voices and respect our wishes. We know they decided not to.
“We hoped the state wouldn’t take a life simply because a life was taken and we have forgiven Mr. Joe Nathan James Jr. for his atrocities toward our family. We have relied upon our faith to get us through these dark days.”
James briefly dated Hall, and he became infatuated with her after they split. Hall filed numerous police reports against James, saying he was stalking her and threatening her. In August 1994, James chased Hall into a friend’s apartment and shot her three times, killing her. Hall was just 26 years old.
Her daughters, who were 3 and 6 at the time of her murder, said they spent years working on forgiving James for what he did. Ultimately, they said, they didn’t believe that killing James was the appropriate answer. Instead, they asked Ivey to commute James’ sentence into life without the possibility of parole.
“With any execution case, I look very closely at the history, the cold-hard facts and all other information or correspondence I may receive,” Ivey said in a statement following James’ execution on Thursday night. “I also take deeply seriously the feelings and position of the victim’s family and loved ones. However, we must always fulfill our responsibility to the law, to public safety and to justice. Tonight, a fair and lawful sentence was carried out, and an unmistakable message was sent that Alabama stands with victims of domestic violence.”
Ivey received pressure from Marshall to go forward with the execution and ignore the family’s request.