Alabama sets February execution date for man in 1991 killing

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama on Tuesday set a February execution date for a man convicted of the 1991 killing of a woman abducted near an automatic teller machine and later found shot in a cemetery.

The Alabama Supreme Court ordered that 51-year-old Willie B. Smith III be put to death on Feb. 11 for the shotgun slaying of Sharma Ruth Johnson.

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Prosecutors said Smith abducted Johnson at gunpoint in October 1991 as she waited to use an ATM in Birmingham, withdrew money using her bank card and then took her to a cemetery where he shot her in the back of the head.

ExploreThe history of the death penalty in Georgia

A jury convicted Smith in 1992 in the death of Johnson, who was the sister of a Birmingham police detective.

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Appellate courts rejected Smith’s claims on appeal, including that his lawyers provided ineffective assistance at trial and that he shouldn’t be executed because he is intellectually disabled. Court records indicate a defense team expert estimated his IQ at 64, while a prosecution expert pegged it at 72.

Alabama uses lethal injection to carry out most death sentences.