By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to review six Alabama death penalty cases, including two for the murders of police officers and the state’s first prosecution for the death of an unborn child.
In a press release, Attorney General Steve Marshall said he was happy with the court’s decisions.
“In each of these cases, a life or lives were tragically and viciously taken and a just sentence of death for the killer was handed down,” Marshall said. “Police officers were carrying out their duties to protect citizens, as they do every day, and they paid the ultimate price. A mother and her unborn child, and three more women, were brutally killed. The U.S. Supreme Court this week acted in its role as a last resort of justice, rightfully letting stand the convictions and sentences for these vile crimes.”
In 2004, Nathaniel Woods was being taken into custody at an apartment where he was dealing drugs with Kerry Spencer when Spencer opened fire on officers.
Spencer killed three officers and wounded a fourth. Woods was convicted of capital murder and attempted murder in 2005 and was sentenced to death. Spencer was also convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.
Carlos Owen, Harley A. Chisolm and Charles R. Bennett were murdered in the line of duty; Michael Collins survived.
In the case of Mario Woodward, Montgomery police officer Keith Houts was shot by Woodward five times during a traffic stop in 2006. Woodward was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in 2008.
The state’s first prosecution for the murder of an unborn baby happened in 2012 with the trial of Jessie Phillips.
Phillips held his pregnant wife, Erica Phillips, in a headlock with a gun pointed to her head in 2009. She broke away but Phillip shot her in the head, killing her.
Marshall prosecuted this case when he was district attorney of Marshall County and Phillips was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in 2012.
Alabama law’s definition of a “person” for the purpose of homicide or assault includes an unborn child in utero no matter what stage of development or regardless of viability.
The other remaining death penalty cases the Supreme Court declined to review are for Gregory Hunt, Demetrius Frazier and Cedric Floyd.
Hunt brutally murdered Karen Lane in Walker County in 1988. Frazier was found guilty by a Jefferson County jury of the 1991 burglary, rape and murder of Pauline Brown. In 2009, Cedric Floyd murdered his former girlfriend, Tina Jones, during a burglary of her house.