Police officers gather to remove activists during an anti death penalty protest in front of the US Supreme Court January 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

USA: Clemency denied, Alabama carries out execution

On May 30, 2024, Alabama executed Jamie Mills. Convicted in 2007 for the 2004 murder of an elderly couple, Mills received a death sentence after an 11-1 jury vote. Despite final appeals, including a plea deal controversy involving key witness JoAnn Mills, clemency was denied by the governor. This marked Alabama’s second execution in 2024.

Witness testimony and plea deal controversy

JoAnn Mills, facing the same charges, testified against Jamie Mills allegedly in exchange for a plea deal promising life with parole. This deal was disputed during appeals, with claims that the then-District Attorney promised the plea in return for her testimony. JoAnn Mills later pled guilty to a single murder count, receiving life with parole. The courts, however, found no evidence to support the plea deal claims and dismissed the appeals as untimely.

Court decisions and appeals

A former District Attorney denied offering any plea deal before Jamie Mills’ trial, stating that the offer came post-trial. Courts at both state and federal levels rejected Jamie Mills’ appeals, citing procedural delays and lack of timely evidence. A judge expressed concern over procedural deficiencies in capital cases but upheld the denial of appeals.

On May 21, 2024, a federal court dismissed a motion by Mills’ lawyers concerning Alabama’s execution process, referencing recent problematic executions. The judge criticized the timing of the challenge, labeling it as a delay tactic. Despite recognizing valid fears regarding execution methods, the court upheld the denial.

Final appeals and reactions

The US Supreme Court rejected Mills’ final appeals without comment. Governor Kay Ivey denied clemency, leading to Mills’ execution. Attorney General Steve Marshall stated the punishment was deserved. The Equal Justice Initiative condemned the execution, citing state deception and constitutional violations. This year, there have been six executions in the USA, including two in Alabama, contributing to the total of 1,588 since 1976.