An Alabama inmate convicted of killing his former girlfriend decades ago was executed Thursday night despite pleas from the victim's family to spare his life. Joe Nathan James Jr. received a lethal injection at a south Alabama prison after the US Supreme Court denied his request for a stay, per the AP. Officials said he was was pronounced dead at 9:27pm after the start of execution was delayed by nearly three hours. James, 50, was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1994 shooting death of Faith Hall, 26, in Birmingham. Prosecutors said James briefly dated Hall and became obsessed after she rejected him, stalking and harassing her for months before killing her.
Hall's two daughters, who were 3 and 6 when their mother was killed, said they would rather James serve life in prison, but Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Wednesday that she planned to let the execution proceed. "Today is a tragic day for our family," reads the family statement issued through the office of state Rep. Juandalynn Givan, who was a friend of Hall's. "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." Ivey said Thursday that she always deeply considers the feelings of the victim's family and loved ones, but "must always fulfill our responsibility to the law, to public safety and to justice."
James asked justices for a stay, noting the opposition of Hall's family and arguing that Alabama did not give inmates adequate notice of their right to select an alternate execution method. He also argued that Ivey’s refusal violates religious freedom laws because the Koran and the Bible "place the concept of forgiveness paramount in this situation." The request was rejected about 30 minutes before the execution was set to begin. James did not open his eyes or show any deliberate movements at any point during the procedure. He did not speak when the warden asked if he had any final words. His breathing became labored, with deep pulsing breaths, and slowed until it was not visible. (Read more execution stories.)