News Staff Report
The Alabama Supreme Court has set a new execution date for a 51-year-old state inmate whose scheduled execution was called off in February because the state refused to allow his personal pastor to accompany him in the death chamber.
Willie B. Smith III, who has an IQ of around 75, was sentenced to the ultimate penalty after the was convicted of the 1991 kidnapping-murder of 22-year-old Sharma Ruth Johnson in Birmingham. He is now set to die by lethal injection on October 21 at Holman.
The state called off Smith’s execution in February after the U.S. Supreme Court sided with a lower court in ruling that Smith could not be executed without his personal spiritual advisor present. Before that ruling was handed down, only members of the prison staff were allowed in the room where executions are carried out.
Court testimony shows that Smith abducted Johnson, the sister of a police detective, at gunpoint from an ATM, used her ATM card to steal $80 from her account, then took her to a cemetery and shot her in the back of the head.
The Alabama Supreme Court set the execution date for Smith even though a trial has been set for next year on claims related to his intellectual capacity.