By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Alabama Department of Corrections officials announced last week that an execution date has been set for Joe Nathan James Jr., convicted of breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s Birmingham home and killing her nearly 28 years ago.
James is scheduled for execution on July 28, at William C. Holman Correctional Facility outside Atmore. James, now 49, was convicted of murdering Faith Hall.
According to court documents, James had a history of stalking and harassing his ex-girlfriend. He showed up at her apartment on August 15, 1994, forced his way inside and accused her of unfaithfulness. He then reportedly pulled a gun out of his waistband and shot the woman several times before fleeing. He was arrested later in California.
In 1996 a Jefferson County jury convicted James of capital murder and recommended he be given the death penalty, which a judge imposed. The conviction was overturned when the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that a judge wrongly admitted some police reports into evidence.
James received a new hearing in 1999 and once again was sentenced to death when jurors rejected claims that he was under emotional duress at the time of the shooting. Several other appeals by James, including claims that his state-appointed lawyers were ineffective, have been filed and rejected over the years.
He has a hand-written appeal pending in federal court, once again claiming his lawyers were ineffective and that a judge wrongly admitted evidence and allowed prosecutors to ask improper questions.
If no stay of execution or other injunctive relief is issued, James will become the second Alabama inmate put to death this year.
Inmates can choose lethal injection or the electric chair, and none have so far opted for electrocution. Nitrogen hypoxia, also called nitrogen suffocation, is also an option, although the state has not developed a proper way of administering it.
Earlier this year, convicted killer Matthew Reeves appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, asking that he be allowed to choose nitrogen hypoxia as his preferred method of execution.
The apparent effort to delay his execution failed. The court denied Reeves’ request, and in January he was put to death by lethal injection.