ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama inmate convicted of killing a man during a 1993 robbery when he was a teenager was executed Thursday by lethal injection.
Casey McWhorter, 49, was executed at a southwest Alabama prison, authorities said. McWhorter was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death for his role in the robbery and shooting death of Edward Lee Williams, 34, on Feb. 18, 1993.
Prosecutors said McWhorter, who was three months past his 18th birthday at the time of the killing, conspired with two younger teenagers, including Williams’ 15-year-old son, to steal money and other items from Williams’ home and then kill him.
The jury that convicted McWhorter recommended a death sentence by a vote of 10-2, which a judge, who had the final decision, imposed, according to court records. The younger teens — Edward Lee Williams Jr. and Daniel Miner, who was 16 — were sentenced to life in prison, according to court records.
Prosecutors said McWhorter and Miner went to the Williamses’ home with rifles and fashioned homemade silencers from a pillow and a milk jug. When the older Williams arrived home and discovered the teens, he grabbed the rifle held by Miner. They began to struggle over it, and McWhorter fired the first shot at Williams, according to a summary of the crime in court filings. Williams was shot a total of 11 times, according to court records.
Defense attorneys had unsuccessfully sought a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court, citing McWhorter’s age at the time of the crime. They argued the death sentence was unconstitutional because Alabama law does not consider a person to be a legal adult until age 19.
McWhorter did not deny participating in the crime and firing the first shot but maintained he did not fire the fatal shots. He said he had been told a number of negative things about Williams at the time of the robbery but now does not know if any of it was true.
“I was a very confused kid,” McWhorter told The Associated Press. “I had some issues going on in my head that I didn’t know how to fix, and the only way I knew to feel acceptance was doing some of the stupid stuff I was doing with the people I was doing it with. I felt like they were family at that point.”
McWhorter spent nearly 30 years on Alabama’s death row, making him among the longest-serving inmates of the state’s 165 death row inmates.
McWhorter said he would encourage young people going through difficult times to take a moment before making a life-altering mistake like he did.
“Anything that comes across them that just doesn’t sit well at first, take a few seconds to think that through,” he said. “Because one bad choice, one stupid mistake, one dumb decision can alter your life — and those that you care about — forever.”
McWhorter was the second inmate put to death this year after the state paused executions for several months to review procedures following a series of failed or problematic executions. James Barber, 64, was executed by lethal injection in July for the 2001 beating death of a woman.
Alabama plans in January to make the nation’s first attempt to put an inmate to death using nitrogen gas. Nitrogen hypoxia has been authorized as an execution method in Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi, but no state has used it.
Kim Chandler, The Associated Press