Alabama Inmate Asks to Be Executed

Mass murderer Derrick Dearman says he wants the families of his victims to have closure
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2024 5:55 AM CDT
Mass Murderer on Death Row Asks to Be Executed
In this Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, photo, Derrick Dearman of Leakesville, Mississippi, center, is escorted into Mobile County Metro Jail in Mobile, Alabama.   (Lawrence Specker / via AP)

A death row inmate in Alabama says he wants to be executed so the families of the people he massacred in 2016 can have closure. Derrick Dearman tells NBC News that he has sent letters to Gov. Kay Ivey and other officials to let them know he is dropping his appeals. The 36-year-old says he's a little worried about the state's recent history of botched executions, but his mind is "focused on trying to make sure to do the right thing."

  • The crime. Dearman says he was high on meth when he murdered five people at a home in Citronelle, Alabama, with a gun and an axe in August 2016. He was convicted on six counts of murder because one of the victims, 22-year-old Chelsea Marie Reed, was five months pregnant.

  • The victims. Dearman also killed Shannon Melissa Randall, 35; Robert Lee Brown, 26; Justin Kaleb Reed, 23; and Joseph Adam Turner, 26. Turner was the brother of Laneta Lester, Dearman's estranged girlfriend, who moved in with the family to flee Dearman's domestic abuse, WKRG reports. After the murders, Dearman kidnapped Lester, along with Turner and Randall's 3-month-old baby. He turned himself in after traveling to his father's home.
  • Appeal rejected. In February, Alabama's top court upheld the murder convictions and said "the death penalty was the proper sentence in Dearman's case," WPMI reports. He tells NBC that he went through the appeals process for the sake of his family, but it's now time "for the victims and their families to get the justice they rightly deserve to start the closure." He says drugs turned him into a "very unpredictable, unstable and violent person," very different from the person he is now, but that doesn't excuse his crimes.
  • Death row. Dearman says his decision doesn't mean that his fellow death row inmates deserve to die. "There's guys in general population that committed way worse crimes than half the guys on death row," he says. "There's some guys here on death row, if you would let them go today, they would never commit a crime and be productive members of society."
  • The method. Dearman says he wants to be executed by lethal injection, not by nitrogen gas, which Alabama used for the first time earlier this year and plans to use again in an execution later this year.
(More Alabama stories.)

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