Joe Nathan James Jr. Alabama inmate on death row executed following 1994 murder of his ex girlfriend, Faith Hall, despite objections of victim’s family. Previously convicted man exhausted number of avenues to stave off lethal injection.
Should one man’s life have been spared? An Alabama death row inmate convicted of killing his former girlfriend decades ago was executed Thursday night despite pleas from the victim’s family to spare his life.
Joe Nathan James Jr. received a lethal injection at a south Alabama prison after the U.S. Supreme Court denied the inmate’s request for a stay.
James, 49, was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1994 shooting death of Faith Hall, 26, in Birmingham. Hall’s daughters have said they would rather James serve life in prison, but Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Wednesday that she planned to let the execution proceed.
Prosecutors said James briefly dated Hall, only to become obsessed with the woman after she rejected him, stalking and harassing her for months before killing her. On Aug. 15, 1994, after Hall had been out shopping with a friend, James forced his way inside the friend’s apartment and shot Hall three times, according to court documents.
A Jefferson County jury first convicted James of capital murder in 1996 and voted to recommend the death penalty, which a judge imposed. The conviction was overturned when a state appeals court ruled a judge had wrongly admitted some police reports into evidence. James was retried and again sentenced to death in 1999, when jurors rejected defense claims that he was under emotional duress at the time of the shooting.
The execution began a few minutes after 9 p.m. CDT following a nearly three-hour delay that the state did not immediately explain. James did not open his eyes or any show visible movements before the execution began. He did not move or speak when the warden asked if he had any final words. His breathing slowed until it was not visible and he was pronounced dead at 9:27 p.m.
Hall’s two daughters, who were 3 and 6 when their mother was killed, had said recently that they would rather James serve life in prison. The family members not attend the execution.
‘Today is a tragic day for our family. We are having to relive the hurt that this caused us many years ago,’ the statement issued through state Rep. Juandalynn Givan’s office read. Givan was a friend of Hall’s.
‘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. … We pray that God allows us to find healing after today and that one day our criminal justice system will listen to the cries of families like ours even if it goes against what the state wishes,’ the family’s statement read.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she would not intervene. In a statement Thursday night, Ivey said she deeply considers the feelings of the victim’s family and loved ones, while maintaining, ‘we must always fulfill our responsibility to the law, to public safety and to justice.’
Ivey stated the execution sends an, ‘unmistakable message was sent that Alabama stands with victims of domestic violence.’
After the execution, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall issued a statement. ‘Justice has been served. Joe James was put to death for the heinous act he committed nearly three decades ago: the cold-blooded murder of an innocent young mother, Faith Hall,’ it said.
Joe Nathan James Jr. was put to death in Alabama even after family members of the woman he killed requested he be allowed to live.https://t.co/uMLlSTvV7r
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 29, 2022
‘should not be rewarded for his transparent attempt to game the system.’
‘In the years since, Joe James has tried to blame everything and everyone in an attempt to escape the consequences of his crime. He has claimed that his highly experienced trial counsel was ‘ineffective,’ that his artful appellate counsel was ‘deficient,’ and — in a demonstration of shocking cowardice and callousness — that his victim bore the blame for her own murder,’ Marshall stated.
James acted as his own attorney in his bid to stop his execution, mailing handwritten lawsuits and appeal notices to the courts from death row. A lawyer filed the latest appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on his behalf Wednesday. But the request for a stay was rejected about 30 minutes before the execution was set to begin the nypost reported.
James asked justices for a stay, noting the opposition of Hall’s family and arguing that Alabama did not give inmates adequate notice of their right to select an alternate execution method. He also argued that Ivey’s refusal violates religious freedom laws because the Koran and the Bible ‘place the concept of forgiveness paramount in this situation.’
The state argued that James waited too late to begin trying to postpone his execution and ‘should not be rewarded for his transparent attempt to game the system.’