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Alabama carries out second execution of the year

Joe Nathan James Jr. was sentenced to death for the murder of his former girlfriend, Faith Hall, in 1994. File Photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Corrections
Joe Nathan James Jr. was sentenced to death for the murder of his former girlfriend, Faith Hall, in 1994. File Photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Corrections

July 28 (UPI) -- Alabama carried out its second execution of the year Thursday evening, putting to death Joe Nathan James Jr., who was convicted of killing a former girlfriend in 1994.

James, 49, was declared dead at 9:27 p.m.

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He was sentenced to death in 1996 for the murder of Faith Hall. Prosecutors said James fatally shot Hall during a burglary in Birmingham.

James' execution came despite requests from Faith Hall's family that he be spared. Her family members released a statement saying they would not be present for the execution.

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"Today is a tragic day for our family," they said in a statement posted by WIAT-TV in Birmingham, Ala. "We are having to relive the hurt that this caused us many years ago.

"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 toward our family."

James also sought to change his method of execution to nitrogen hypoxia -- death by inhalation of nitrogen gas -- on July 17. Alabama allows death row inmates to choose to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia, but they had to select the option within a 30-day window in June 2018.

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Those who didn't make a selection during that time frame, including James, were set to be executed by Alabama's default method, lethal injection. Alabama doesn't have a protocol established for nitrogen hypoxia executions and therefore hasn't carried out any.

The Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based non-profit that seeks to end excessive punishment in the United States, accused the Alabama Department of Corrections of unfairly prioritizing for execution death row prisoners who didn't opt in to the nitrogen hypoxia method.

"Many people sentenced to death refused to cooperate in their own executions by choosing a method," the EJI said in a post on its website last week. "Many human rights groups have condemned forcing a person to participate in their own deaths as a violation of fundamental human rights and religious freedom."

James was the second person put to death in Alabama this year and the eighth in the United States.

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