Alabama executes man who killed elderly couple in 2004

ATMORE, Ala. — An Alabama man received a lethal injection Thursday for the 2004 murder of an elderly couple, the first inmate put to death by the state since it became the first in the nation to execute an inmate using nitrogen months ago.

Jamie Ray Mills, 50, was pronounced dead at 6:26 p.m. after being injected with three drugs at a southwest Alabama prison, authorities said. Lethal injection remains the default method of execution in Alabama, unless a condemned inmate requests nitrogen or the electric chair.

Mills was convicted of capital murder in the deaths of Floyd Hill, 87, and his wife Vera, 72. Prosecutors said they were attacked June 24, 2004, with a hammer, machete and tire iron at their home about 80 miles (130 kilometers) away. ) ) northwest of Birmingham.

“Tonight, twenty years after committing these murders, Jamie Mills paid the price for his heinous crimes. I pray for the victims and their loved ones,” the Alabama governor said. Kay Ivey said in a statement.

As the execution began, Mills gave a thumbs-up to family members, who were watching from a witness room, and then mouthed “I love you” in their direction.

“I love my family. I love my brother and my sister. “I couldn’t ask for more,” Mills said, looking at his brother and sister. He also thanked his lawyer, Charlotte Morrison, of Equal Justice Initiative. “Charlotte, you fought hard for me. I love you all.” Some of his relatives wept quietly during the execution.

As the first execution drug – a sedative – flowed, Mills appeared to quickly lose consciousness as a spiritual advisor prayed at the foot of the gurney.

In 2007, a jury convicted Jamie Mills of capital murder and voted 11-1 in favor of a judge’s death sentence.

Floyd Hill was the primary caregiver for his wife, who was diabetic and in failing health. He kept his medication in a tackle box in the couple’s kitchen. The Hills held regular garage sales to supplement their income. When the couple’s granddaughter couldn’t reach them, officers arrived and found them in pools of blood in the backyard shed where they were storing yard sale items. Floyd Hill died from head and neck injuries and Vera Hill died about 12 weeks later from complications of head trauma, according to court filings.

Family members of the victims attended the execution and issued a statement that “justice has been served” after 20 years of waiting.

“Our family can now put an end to this heinous crime he committed and our beloved grandparents can rest in peace. Let this be a lesson to those who believe justice will not find you. Hopefully this will prevent others from committing future crimes. May God help us all,” read the statement from the Hill and Freeman families.

During the 2007 trial, JoAnn Mills became the key witness against her common-law husband. She testified that after staying up all night smoking methamphetamine, her husband took her to the victims’ home where she said she saw her husband repeatedly punch the couple in the backyard shed. court, court documents show.

During final appeals, Mills’ lawyers, who maintained his innocence at trial, had argued that the newly obtained evidence showed the prosecution lied about a plea deal with Mills’ wife to spare him from request the death penalty against her if she testified against her husband.

JoAnn Mill’s attorney wrote in a February affidavit that before the 2007 trial, he met with the prosecutor, who agreed to let her plead guilty to a lesser charge if she testified. On the stand, JoAnn Mills said she only hoped to get “a little forgiveness from God” by doing tests.

The Equal Justice Initiative said after the execution that prosecutors “lied, deceived and misrepresented the reliability of evidence against Jamie Mills for 17 years.”

“A day will come when governments will recognize the perverse injustice of this process and the wrongfulness of this punishment. “It will be one day too late for Jamie Mills, which makes his death tragically regrettable and sadly unfair,” the statement added.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said there was ample evidence against Mills. “His actions were cold and calculated, and the punishment he received has never been more deserved,” Marshall said.

In January. On December 25, Alabama executed inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith with nitrogen gas, a first-of-its-kind method that sparked renewed debate over capital punishment. The state said the method was humane, but critics called it cruel and experimental.

Smith was executed by breathing pure nitrogen through a face mask, causing oxygen deprivation. It was the first new method of execution used in the United States since the introduction of lethal injection, now the most commonly used method, in 1982. Smith was convicted of murder for hire. in 1988 from a pastor’s wife, Elizabeth Sennett.

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