Death Penalty

Tonight, Alabama Will Execute a Man Who Didn't Commit Murder

Only 10 jurors sentenced Nathaniel Woods to death for the deaths of three police officers.


**UPDATE: The temporary stay of execution was lifted hours after it was enacted. The Supreme Court did not provide comment on why it dismissed the motions in Woods' case. Woods' execution resumed on Thursday evening. He was pronounced dead at 9:01 p.m.

UPDATE: In a last-minute order signed by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court ordered a temporary stay in Woods' execution "pending further order of the undersigned or of the Court."

Alabama man Nathaniel Woods is scheduled to be executed tonight for three murders prosecutors acknowledge he did not commit. Woods was charged and convicted as an accomplice in the shooting deaths of police officers Charles Bennett, Carlos "Curly" Owen, and Harley Chisholm III at a suspected drug house in Birmingham. Under Alabama law, accomplice to murder is a capital offense punishable by death. 

Prosecutors contend that on June 17, 2004, the three officers, as well as Officer Michael Collins, arrived at the house, which they knew to be a place where people bought drugs, and were insulted by Woods. They ran his name through the police database and found he had an outstanding warrant from Fairfield, Alabama. In a letter to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) contesting Woods' commutation request, Alabama Attorney General Steven T. Marshall says that Woods refused to come outside the house, and that officers followed him inside and arrested him on the Fairfield warrant. After they had Wood in handcuffs, however, Kerry Spencer, a friend of Woods who was already inside the house, opened fire on the officers, killing three and wounding Collins. 

For his role in the incident, Woods' jury convicted him and voted 10-2 that he be executed.

Spencer, who is also on death row, told The Appeal that Woods is "100 percent innocent. All he did that day was get beat up and he ran." Spencer testified that he was napping after heavy drug use the night before when the police entered the apartment. He said he was roused from his sleep by a commotion, grabbed his rifle, and fatally shot the officers because they were attacking Woods and he feared for their lives. 

Prosecutors offered a very different perspective at trial, reports The Appeal:

Woods, Jefferson County prosecutors told the jury at his 2005 trial, hated law enforcement and had lured the officers into the house so Spencer could kill them. Though he did not fire the fatal shots, Woods had masterminded the plan, making his actions as equally significant as Spencer's, argued assistant district attorney Mara Sirles. "He wanted them to be fish in a barrel," she said during her closing argument.

Prosecutors called witnesses who testified they'd heard Woods talking about his disgust for the police. They called a so-called handwriting expert to tell the jury that Woods had written lyrics to a song by rapper Dr. Dre on a piece of paper in his county jail cell that referred to the police as "pigs." They called Collins, who recounted the events that unfolded at the house on the day of the shooting. And they called the victims' widows, who said they wanted Woods to be sentenced to die.

The Appeal found other jarring and alarming discrepancies in Woods' case:

Woods's attorneys have collected evidence that they say shows that neither Woods nor Spencer plotted to kill the officers. The shooting, they argue, had been brought on by years of police misconduct involving a bribery scheme. They've alleged that key witnesses falsely testified or didn't testify at all as part of undisclosed deals with the police. And they've alleged that the performance of Woods's trial attorneys—neither of whom had tried a capital murder case before—was deficient.

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Tommy Nail did not allow evidence of police corruption to be presented at Woods' trial because he was not arguing self-defense. This fact, and inadequate representation by his trial and appellate lawyers, ultimately doomed him to death.

Advocates have since slammed the decision to convict Woods for a murder he ultimately did not commit and the poor representation he received at the trial. 

"Alabama is scheduled to execute a man who did not commit the murder he has been charged with and his lawyer had no previous experience with death penalty cases. How many more lives will be subject to this failure of a policy?" Hannah Cox, National Manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, told Reason

Martin Luther King III, son of the iconic civil rights leader, was among the prominent voices pleading for Alabama to spare Woods' life. "Killing this African American man, whose case appears to have been strongly mishandled by the courts, could produce an irreversible injustice," King wrote in his letter to Ivey. "Are you willing to allow a potentially innocent man to be executed?"

These are not the only issues. There is also the use of a non-unanimous verdict, an issue that is currently being presented before the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court has agreed to hear Ramos v. Louisiana, a case that will decide whether or not the Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury applies to the states, not just the federal government. 

A second issue was raised after the state approved execution via nitrogen hypoxia, an alternative to its lethal injection protocol, in 2018. The state failed to inform Woods that his execution would be prioritized if he did not volunteer to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia. The Equal Justice Initiative has since reported that Alabama has publicly acknowledged that it sought execution dates for certain inmates solely because they did not elect to be killed by nitrogen hypoxia.

Woods is highly unlikely to receive a stay of execution. On Wednesday, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall released a statement calling Woods a "cop-killer" and rebuffing the reporting on his innocence claims.

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  1. I will say that capital punishment in the absence of a unanimous jury is fucked up. And since SCOTUS has agreed to hear Ramos v. Louisiana, it seems like the right thing to do would be a temporary stay at least until that case is decided.
    Having said that, I don’t have a problem with felony murder (or in this case, an accessory to murder) being punished with the death penalty in general. The problem is that the two sides have claimed WILDLY different series of events that led to the shootings.
    But, the article doesn’t really give any good links that could help someone try to make sense of it. It comes down to Woods saying he is innocent, and the state (following a jury trial and appeals) saying he is guilty. I obviously don’t trust the police or the state. But, I don’t necessarily trust this guy either. And there are very often lots of other pieces of evidence than the anti-death penalty advocates sometimes let on in these sorts of cases.

    1. More info about the criminal episode, from the appellate trial of the triggerman, Kerry Spencer.

      I agree that death sentences should be unanimous, and that Alabama should stay this execution until the Supreme Court has decided Ramos.

    2. I read to the point where it claimed he was in cuffs when his buddies shot the cops. That leads me to the presumption that he’s legitimately innocent of any capital crime. I’m sure as with most of these that important details are being left out and that the defendant isn’t the most sympathetic. If he had no active part in the murder then I don’t think he deserves the death penalty

    3. Bear,
      Here is the set of facts and the opinion of the court that convicted Nate Woods. It is very long, be forewarned. But good to know what REALLY happened–as neither side has provided that as yet.

      Opinion from the court
      A Jefferson County grand jury indicted Nathaniel Woods for four counts of capital murder for his involvement in the shootings of four Birmingham police officers. In case no. CC–04–4133, Woods was charged with intentionally causing the death of Carlos Owen by shooting him with a firearm while Owen was on duty as a police officer, in violation of § 13A–5–40(a)(5), Ala.Code 1975; in case no. CC–04–4134, Woods was charged with intentionally causing the death of Harley A. Chisolm III, by shooting him with a firearm while Chisolm was on duty as a police officer, in violation of § 13A–5–40(a)(5), Ala.Code 1975; in case no. CC–04–4135, Woods was charged with intentionally causing the death of Charles R. Bennett by shooting him with a firearm while Bennett was on duty as a police officer, in violation of § 13A–5–40(a)(5), Ala.Code 1975; and in case no. CC–04–4384, Woods was charged with intentionally causing the death of Carlos Owen, Harley A. Chisolm III, and Charles R. Bennett by one act or pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct by shooting them with a firearm, in violation of § 13A–5–40(a)(10), Ala.Code 1975. Pursuant to the State’s motion, the trial court consolidated the cases for trial.1 The trial began on October 3, 2005, and on October 10, 2005, the jury found Woods guilty of all charges. The penalty phase of *5 the trial was conducted before the jury the following day, and the jury recommended, by a vote of 10 to 2, that Woods be sentenced to death. On December 2, 2005, the trial court held the final sentencing hearing. The parties presented evidence and argument for the court’s consideration, and the court took the matter under advisement. On December 9, 2005, the trial court accepted the jury’s recommendation and sentenced Woods to death. On January 3, 2006, Woods filed a motion for a new trial. On January 23, 2006, the trial court held a hearing on the motion, and it denied the motion that day.
      The evidence adduced at trial indicated the following. Birmingham police officers Carlos Owen, Harley A. Chisolm III, Charles R. Bennett, and Michael Collins were on duty on June 17, 2004. Officer Collins testified that he was on patrol when he heard a radio transmission from Officer Owen, announcing that he was getting out of his patrol car on 18th Street at “the green apartments.” (R. 492.) Officer Collins was familiar with the apartments because they were in an area that had “been a drug problem area for years.” (R. 493.) The apartments were located four or five blocks from the police precinct. Officer Collins went to the green apartments to back up Officer Owen, and he parked behind the apartments a few minutes after he heard Officer Owen’s radio call. Before Officer Collins arrived, Officer Owen had been checking the license tags and the vehicle identification numbers of the vehicles located behind the apartments (R. 965–67), and he was standing near the back door of one of the apartments when Officer Collins arrived. Officer Owen told Officer Collins that a man at the back door had cursed at him and yelled at him and had told him to “get the fuck off his property.” (R. 495.) Officers Owen and Collins went to the back door of the apartment; Officer Collins testified that Nathaniel Woods was the man standing inside the doorway of the apartment. Woods then cursed at both officers repeatedly and told them to “[g]et the fuck off our property.” (R. 498.) Officer Collins saw a female in a white T-shirt behind Woods. Officer Collins testified that it appeared that a third person was also inside the apartment because someone pulled a window covering back and said “[f]uck the police” several times.
      Officer Collins testified that Woods told Officer Owen “[y]ou always hide behind that badge and gun,” and “[t]ake off that badge and I will fuck you up.” (R. 501.) Officer Owen then took off his badge, but Woods stayed behind the door. At that point, a female neighbor walked up to Officer Owen and called him by his nickname, Curly; after they spoke, Officer Owen put his badge back on and he and the female neighbor walked toward his patrol car. Officer Chisolm then arrived in his patrol car, and the other officers told him what had occurred. Officers Collins and Owen drove into the alley behind the apartments and spoke about the incident. Officer Owen said that the man at the door had told him that his name was Nathaniel Woods. Officer Collins checked Woods’s name using the in-car computer; specifically, he checked the City of Birmingham’s files in the event that Woods had been arrested in Birmingham, and he checked the National Crime Information Center (“NCIC”) files. The NCIC files indicated that a person named Nathaniel Woods, with an address in that area and of an age near the age Officer Collins estimated Woods to be, had an outstanding misdemeanor assault warrant from the City of Fairfield Police Department. However, Officer Collins testified that, at that point, he could not verify that the man in the apartment was the same person who had the outstanding warrant for his arrest.
      *6 Officers Collins and Owen contacted Officer Chisolm by radio and asked him to go to the precinct to print out a picture of the person wanted by the Fairfield Police Department so they could determine whether that person was the person who had identified himself to Officer Owen as Nathaniel Woods. They also asked Officer Chisolm to contact the Fairfield Police Department to confirm that the warrant was still outstanding. Another officer later saw Officer Chisolm sitting at the NCIC computer at the Birmingham Police Department; he was printing a picture of a mug shot, and he had a printout of a “hit confirmation,” indicating that Nathaniel Woods had an outstanding warrant. Fairfield Police Department dispatcher Jackie Buchanan confirmed that a warrant for Woods had been issued on February 18, 2004, and that it remained outstanding. Officer Chisolm received a radio call from a Birmingham dispatcher at 1:17 p.m., informing him that the Fairfield Police Department had confirmed that the warrant was still active. Officer Chisolm then radioed the Birmingham dispatcher that he, Officer Owen, and Officer Collins would be leaving the precinct momentarily to try to arrest Woods. (R. 975.) Officer Chisolm radioed Officer Steven Sanders and told Officer Sanders that he had a suspect with an outstanding warrant who had been taunting the police, that is, standing inside a door saying, “You can’t get me. You can’t get me,” and then running back into the apartment. (R. 639–40.) Officer Sanders told Officer Chisolm that he would drive to the address on 18th Street to assist Officer Chisolm in serving the warrant, but that he was approximately 10 minutes from the address.2
      While the police were confirming the validity of the warrant for Woods’s arrest, Woods remained at the apartment. Marquita McClure, Woods’s girlfriend, testified that in June 2004 she was living in the apartment with Woods, whom she called by the nickname “Nate.” Kerry Spencer, Woods’s codefendant in this case, also lived in that apartment, and McClure knew Spencer by his nickname, “Nookie.” Another young woman, Markesha Williams, was staying at the apartment and Spencer’s brother, Courtney, also occasionally came to the apartment. McClure testified that Woods and Spencer were close friends, and that the two sold drugs from the apartment. She testified that the pair used a “doorman,” someone who stood at the back door to look out for the police or to see if someone they did not know was trying to come inside. McClure also testified that guns were kept in the apartment; she saw long guns and revolvers, and she testified that Woods and Spencer carried the guns with them while they were in the apartment. McClure said that she saw Spencer walking around the apartment with a long gun strapped to his back on the day of the shootings, and she testified that the night before the shootings both Spencer and Woods were in the backyard shooting guns.
      McClure testified that on the morning of the shootings, Woods had been outside but came inside and was standing at the screen door when Officer Owen drove up. She heard Woods and Officer Owen talking like they were angry, and when she walked into the room, she heard Woods tell Officer Owen to take his badge off. McClure said that Officer Owen took his badge off, and then the next-door neighbor came over and told Officer Owen to put his badge back on, which he did. The officers left soon after. While Woods and Officer Owen were talking, McClure said, Spencer was standing at the window of the back bedroom. After the police left, Woods and *7 Spencer said they did not like the police and they said, “I’ll kill the mother fuckers.” (R. 549.) She had on previous occasions heard Spencer make similar statements, but she did not pay attention when Woods or Spencer made these statements because she did not take them seriously.
      McClure left the apartment to run an errand, and she asked Woods to come with her. However, Woods told her that he was going to stay with Spencer in case the police came back. McClure said that when Woods walked her outside to the car, Woods was carrying his revolver. McClure did not return before the shootings took place.
      Officer Collins testified that after the officers received confirmation from the Fairfield Police Department that the warrant against Woods was valid, he and Officers Owen and Chisolm drove to the green apartments to serve the warrant. As they arrived at Woods’s apartment, Officer Bennett arrived; Officer Collins said that he did not know how Officer Bennett was notified of their attempt to execute the warrant at the apartment. Officers Chisolm and Bennett went to the front of the apartment, and Officers Collins and Owen went to the back of the apartment. Officer Collins testified that, as he and Officer Owen walked toward the back door, a man who had been working on one of the vehicles parked near the apartment walked away and said, “I don’t want no part of this. I don’t want nothing to do with this. I don’t want no part of this.” (R. 650.) Woods was again standing inside the screen door, and he immediately began cursing and telling the officers to “get the fuck out” of there. (R. 650.) Officer Owen told Woods that they had a warrant for his arrest on a misdemeanor assault charge from Fairfield and that he needed to step outside. Officer Collins said that Woods refused to come outside and that he responded to Officer Owen’s request by saying, “Fuck you. I don’t have no warrant. Fuck you.” (R. 651.) Woods repeatedly stated that there was no outstanding warrant for his arrest, and he demanded to see the warrant. The officers then called Officer Chisolm on the radio and asked him to come to the back of the apartment with the picture and the NCIC printout. Officer Chisolm walked around to the back of the apartment and showed Woods the mug shot and the NCIC printout, but Woods continued to argue that he had “no papers,” i.e., that a warrant had not been issued. Officer Chisolm told him that he was under arrest and to step outside. Officer Collins testified that Woods told the officers that “[i]f you come in here, we’ll fuck you up.” (R. 694.)

      Officer Collins testified that, all of a sudden, Woods turned and ran from the kitchen further into the apartment. Officer Chisolm grabbed the screen door, opened it, and followed Woods inside the apartment. Officer Owen then went into the apartment; Officer Collins followed behind him. None of the officers had their weapons drawn when they entered the apartment. Officer Collins testified that when he stepped into the kitchen of the apartment, he saw that Officers Chisolm and Owen were in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room and they appeared to be holding Woods. He could hear Woods say, “Okay. I give up. Just don’t spray me with that mace.” (R. 654.) Officer Collins then heard someone radio that “[t]hey are coming out the front door.” (R. 656.) Officer Collins testified that Officers Chisolm and Owen had the doorway blocked, so he turned and ran toward the back door so that he could join Officer Bennett at the front door. As he turned, Officer Owen said to him, “ ‘Mike, they are going out the front.’ ” (R. 656–57.)
      *8 Officer Collins testified that, as he got to the back door, he heard “a little shuffling behind me and shooting started.” (R. 657.) He heard numerous shots and he felt a slapping sensation on his leg by his holster. Officer Collins testified that he ran toward the back of his patrol car for cover. He twice radioed the dispatcher that shots had been fired. From his position behind his patrol car, Officer Collins radioed a “double aught” call, a seldom-used radio code meaning that an officer needs all possible assistance because his life is in danger. Officer Collins saw Kerry Spencer standing at the doorway of the apartment shooting in his direction; he could hear the bullets hit the vehicle, and he could hear glass shattering. Several other officers then arrived at the scene. Later that afternoon, Officer Collins discovered that his holster had a hole in the side, as did his pants, and that he had sustained an injury to the back of his upper right thigh. He found a metal fragment in the lining of his pants pocket near the hole in his pants.
      Carolyn Lavender, a sergeant with the Birmingham Police Department assigned to communications, testified about the radio transmissions among several of the officers and dispatchers on the day of the shooting. Sgt. Lavender testified that a dispatcher contacted Officer Chisolm at 1:17 p.m. and notified him that the Fairfield arrest warrant on Woods had been confirmed. Officer Chisolm notified the dispatcher that he and Officers Owen and Collins would be leaving the precinct soon to try to arrest Woods on the warrant. The next radio transmission involving Woods came at 1:24 p.m., from an unidentified officer who stated, “They are going out the front.” (R. 975.) Two seconds later a transmission of “[s]hots fired” was made; another “[s]hots fired” transmission was radioed four seconds after that. (R. 975–77.) At 1:25 p.m., Officer Collins radioed “double aught.”
      Several officers who responded to the double-aught call testified at trial. Officer Hugh Butler testified that he was less than a mile from the green apartments when he heard the call. When he arrived, he saw that another officer was already at the scene and was standing to the side of the front door, armed with a shotgun. When Officer Butler walked toward the front door, he saw Officer Bennett on the ground, face up, “obviously dead with a hole in his face and smoke coming out if it.” (R. 708.) As he ran up to the doorway, he looked behind him and noticed that Officer Terrance Hardin and another officer had arrived. One of the officers called out that there was a weapon in the grass; that weapon was an SKS assault rifle with a magazine attached. Officer Hardin picked up the assault rifle and secured it in Officer Butler’s patrol car. Officer Butler called into the apartment for Officer Owen and Officer Chisolm, but he received no answer. He called for anyone else in the apartment to surrender, but received no response to that directive. He and several other officers then entered the apartment. Officer Butler testified that he saw Officers Owen and Chisolm and that they were dead. When Officer Fred Alexander saw Officer Bennett outside the apartment, he radioed dispatch to report that an officer was down. When Officer Alexander saw that Officers Owen and Chisolm were dead, he radioed dispatch to advise that two other officers were down. The officers found a handgun in the bathroom and two long guns, one with the stock sawed off, in a bedroom. After the officers cleared the apartment and determined that no one else was inside, they then went outside and found Officer Collins. Sgt. Ruben Parker, who was retired at the time of trial, testified that he and Officer J.D. Gray responded to *9 the double-aught call, and they kept a perimeter around the scene when they arrived. Sgt. Parker said that another officer was near Officer Bennett’s body and noticed a Glock brand gun that was 6 to 12 inches from Officer Bennett’s right hand. Sgt. Parker kept the gun until he turned it over to an evidence technician.
      Many officers canvassed the neighborhood after the shootings. Sgt. Daniel Carr, who was retired at the time of trial, testified that he came upon a house where three black males were sitting on the porch. He testified that one of the men was Woods, and he said that Woods appeared to be very relaxed as he sat on the porch and spoke with the officer. After Sgt. Carr confirmed by looking at a photograph that the man looked like one of the suspects, he asked Woods for his name and Woods gave Sgt. Carr his full name. Woods was taken into custody. When Woods was patted down, the officers found no identification on him, but they found two .22 caliber bullets in a pants pocket. At 2:56 p.m., an officer radioed that Woods was in custody. (R. 977–78.)

      Sgt. James Blanton testified that on the day of the shootings, he was working in the vice-narcotics division of the Birmingham Police Department, but when he heard the double-aught call, he and his partner closed their operation and responded to the location of the shooting. After completing some searches of houses in the area, he was informed that a suspect was in a residence at a certain address on 18th Street. Sgt. Blanton arrived at that residence and he saw his partner attempting to coax Kerry Spencer out of the attic. Sgt. Blanton said that he and a detective saw Spencer’s hands moving toward them, so they reached into the attic and pulled Spencer out.
      Fernando Belser, whose nickname is “Blue,” was inside the apartment when the officers were shot and killed. Belser testified that he had been staying at the apartment on 18th Street with Woods and Spencer for three or four months. He said that Woods’s girlfriend, Marquita McClure, and Spencer’s girlfriend, Markesha Williams, were also staying at the apartment in June 2004. Belser testified that Woods and Spencer made money by selling drugs from the apartment and that he was the “doorman” at the apartment. He stated that a “doorman” determines who gets to come inside to purchase drugs and handles most of the transactions of money and drugs between the purchaser and drug dealer. According to Belser, drug purchasers would come in the back door of the apartment, and were generally not permitted past the kitchen into the living room unless Woods or Spencer gave them permission. Belser testified that “[i]f somebody tried to go past the—through the kitchen into the living room without permission, or if they tried to go and they were being told to stop in the kitchen, they would probably, you know, get hurt pretty bad or something could happen to them ….” (R. 754.) Belser testified that Woods and Spencer were the primary purveyors of drugs in the apartment and that they sold mostly crack cocaine. On an average day, Belser said, Woods and Spencer sold drugs to 100 to 150 customers and a lot of money flowed through the apartment.
      Belser testified that handguns and shotguns were kept in the apartment and that Woods and Spencer carried guns on them. Woods typically carried a small handgun, but Spencer carried all kinds of guns, including an assault rifle. Belser testified that he first saw the SKS assault rifle used in the shooting the night before when Spencer test-fired it outside the apartment. Belser testified that, before the day of the shootings, he had heard Spencer say *10 that he did not like the police, that he was tired of them harassing him, and that if they did not stop harassing him, he would “light them up,” meaning that he would shoot them. (R. 762.) Belser also said that he had heard Woods make statements similar to those Spencer had made.
      Belser testified about the police officers’ first stop at the apartment on June 17, 2004; that testimony was substantially similar to that given by other witnesses. Belser left the apartment after the officers did, and he was gone for an hour or two. After he returned, the police came back a second time. According to Belser, Woods was standing inside the screen door at the back of the house when Officers Owen and Chisolm arrived in the back. He heard Woods and Officer Chisolm discussing a warrant, then Woods began to “retreat, backpedal” into the living room. (R. 771.) Belser said that Officer Chisolm then snatched the screen door open and came inside the kitchen. Officer Chisolm walked just past the threshold between the kitchen and the living room, shaking a can of Mace, and Woods told Officer Chisolm not to spray him with the Mace. Belser testified that he did not see Officer Chisolm spray the Mace; that he did not cough or smell anything; and that Woods was not coughing. At that point, Belser said, Spencer came out of the bedroom carrying the SKS assault rifle that was later recovered in the yard of the residence. Belser said that Spencer opened fire on Officer Chisolm and Officer Chisolm tried to return to the kitchen. Belser did not look toward the kitchen anymore after Spencer began shooting but knew that Spencer fired several shots into the kitchen and out of the back of the apartment. (R. 813–14.) Woods tried to go out of the front door, Belser said, but when Woods opened it, Woods told Spencer that they had “another one right there.” (R. 778.) Because the front door opened inward, Belser’s view was blocked, and he could not see anyone outside. Spencer turned and fired shots out the front door. Belser testified that Woods then ran out the front door and that Spencer followed him within seconds; the pair ran across the street. Belser walked to the front door and saw Officer Bennett on the ground; the shooting had stopped, he said, and he stepped over the officer’s body and walked down the street.
      On cross-examination, Belser acknowledged that he had previously pleaded guilty to felony charges of possession of a forged instrument. He continued to maintain that Spencer and Woods had expressed that they were tired of the police messing with them and that he had heard Spencer say that he would “light them up” and that Woods agreed with Spencer. However, when Belser was asked whether he could determine whether Spencer and Woods were serious when they made such remarks, Belser replied that it was hard to say with Spencer. He added that it was “just hard to say if he meant it or not because he kept a certain demeanor. He be—seems like he was dead serious, but he would be joking. And then you would think he was joking, but he would be dead serious ….” (R. 803–04.) Belser also testified that if he had believed that Spencer and Woods intended to shoot police officers, he would not have stayed at the apartment. Finally, Belser testified that, when Woods opened the front door and announced there was “another one,” he did not tell Spencer to shoot him; instead, Belser said, when Woods opened the door and saw the other officer, “it scared him.” (R. 815.)
      John Prather testified that he lived in a four-room house commonly known as a “shotgun-style house” located on 18th Street in Ensley at the time of the shooting. He said that he was familiar with the *11 green apartments and could see them from his house. On the day of the shooting, he was watching television in the middle room of the house, the bedroom; two acquaintances were also in the house, a young woman named Marshay and Michael Scott. Prather testified that he heard many sirens that afternoon and, suddenly, two men kicked open his back door. He identified Woods as one of the men and said that Spencer was the second man. According to Prather, Woods and Spencer came into his bedroom and sat down; Spencer sat to his right and Woods sat to his left, near a heater. Prather said that he was concerned for his safety, and he asked Woods and Spencer what was going on. They told him that he would be taken care of when it was all over, and he knew they were talking about paying him, though no specific dollar figure was mentioned. Prather said that he overheard Woods tell Spencer, “You came through for me.” (R. 842.)
      Prather testified that he became restless after he saw reports on the television involving the three officers being shot at the green apartments, and he knew that Woods and Spencer were involved. Although he was very apprehensive about getting up, Prather said, he eventually got up and walked out of the bedroom and into the living room. Prather then walked out of his house and sat on the porch of the house next door. According to Prather, Woods followed him and sat on the steps at the house next door. Police were all around the area. After approximately 10 minutes, Prather walked back to his house and sat on the banister of his porch; Woods followed him and sat on the steps of his porch. Prather testified that a police officer walked over and spoke with Woods, and Woods gave the officer his name and surrendered. Finally, Prather testified that when Woods first burst into his house, he did not appear to have a hard time breathing, and his eyes had no tears and his nose was not running.
      Michael Scott testified that he was in Prather’s house, which was approximately one block from the green apartments, when he heard shots fired. He admitted that he had previously been inside the green apartments to purchase cocaine; he said he had purchased drugs approximately 10 times from Woods and Spencer. After he heard the shots fired that day, he yelled to Prather, and he then heard a commotion in the back of the house. Scott said that he turned and saw Woods and Spencer come through the back door of Prather’s house. Woods walked into the living room where Scott was standing. Woods was not coughing and he had no trouble breathing, Scott said; Scott also said that Woods had no tears and his nose was not running. Woods said, “They fucked with the wrong niggers. We shot their asses” (R. 860), and then said something about having been sprayed with Mace. According to Scott, Woods then went into the bedroom with Prather and Spencer. When Prather came into the living room and suggested to Scott that they go outside, he turned to see where Spencer had gone and heard a commotion in the attic, so he assumed that Spencer had climbed into the attic. Scott said that a police officer eventually came to the porch and recognized Woods from a photograph he was holding, and that Woods was taken into custody.
      Officer Cedric Clifton testified that he was working in the evidence-technician unit of the Birmingham Police Department on June 17, 2004, and that he photographed the scene and collected evidence at Prather’s house. Officer Clifton testified that he collected a wallet from beneath the couch in the living room that contained Woods’s identification card and Social Security card, among other things. *12 He also found a 9mm handgun in the attic of the residence next to the entryway to the attic. The gun was loaded, and it had 1 round in the chamber and 10 rounds in the clip. Officer Clifton testified that in the bedroom, behind the heater, he recovered a second handgun, a Beretta brand 9mm gun. Officer Clifton testified that “[t]he weapon had been hit right behind where you pull the trigger,” and that he was not able to remove the magazine from the weapon as a result of the damage. (R. 945.) Subsequent testimony established that the Beretta handgun found behind the heater in Prather’s house was Officer Owen’s service weapon. (R. 944, 1194.) Officer Clifton was unable to locate any fingerprints on the weapon.
      Evidence technicians and a crime-scene investigator photographed and diagramed the scene where the shooting occurred and collected evidence from the apartment, in the front and back yards, and in a nearby vacant lot. The officers testified that they collected numerous weapons, shell casings, spent bullets, and live ammunition from the scene. Finally, Officer Chester White, an evidence technician, testified that he received a Glock 19 9mm semiautomatic weapon from Sgt. Ruben Parker. That gun had been located near Officer Bennett’s body and was identified as his service weapon. Officer White testified that the gun was fully loaded. Officer White also received the SKS assault rifle that had been found in the front yard of the residence; two live rounds remained in the assault rifle. Three loaded weapons—a shotgun, a rifle, and a revolver—were also recovered from other rooms in the apartment. Officer White photographed the bodies of the deceased officers and removed their duty belts and items from their pockets. Officer Owen had no weapon on his duty belt, and the gun holster on the belt had been damaged. When he collected Officer Chisolm’s duty belt, Officer White noted that the holster that usually contained a Mace canister was empty and that the canister of Mace was located near the back door of the apartment. Officer White testified that, after he received information from the coroner about the gunshot wound to Officer Bennett’s face, he returned to the scene and dug a bullet from the ground beneath where Officer Bennett’s head had been lying.
      Charles Underwood, an investigator in the forensics unit of the Birmingham Police Department, testified that he photographed the backyard of the apartment and collected shell casings there. He observed bullet holes in Officer Collins’s patrol car—in the radiator, the windshield, and the strobe light bar of the car—and bullet holes in another car parked behind the apartment. A vehicle in front of the apartment had bullet holes in the front fender and in the hood. Inv. Underwood collected bullet fragments from inside Officer Collins’s patrol car and from the car parked in front of the apartment. Inv. Underwood also collected two spent shell casings from the front yard near Officer Bennett’s body. Finally, Inv. Underwood testified that he conducted a trajectory examination of the cars so that he could determine the path the bullets took when they were fired and where the barrel of the gun was in relation to where the shots were fired.
      Dr. Gary Simmons, a forensic pathologist with the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office, testified that he conducted the autopsies on the three officers. He provided details of the examinations of each officer’s body, and concluded that each had died of multiple gunshot wounds. Dr. Simmons testified that Officer Chisolm and Officer Owen sustained several gunshot wounds to the back that then exited the front of the body; that the stippling on the skin indicated that when the bullet was fired into *13 Officer Bennett’s face, the gun was 12 inches or less from him; and that one of the bullets fired at Officer Chisolm was fired from less than two feet away. Dr. Simmons testified that the more serious wounds the officers sustained, as opposed to the graze wounds, were typical of those caused by high-powered rifles because the bullets left large holes in the bodies, particularly as the bullets exited the bodies. Dr. Simmons recovered bullet fragments from each officer’s body and secured them for further analysis. Dr. Simmons testified that Officers Chisolm and Bennett were wearing bulletproof vests, but he noted that several bullets went through the vests because those vests are typically made to stop bullets from handguns, not from high-powered rifles.
      Mitch Rector, a firearm-and-toolmark examiner with the Birmingham Police Department, testified that he examined the weapons, bullet fragments, and shell casings recovered in this case. He identified numerous shell casings and bullets that had been fired from the SKS assault rifle recovered at the scene. Rector testified that some of the bullet fragments recovered during the autopsies of Officers Bennett and Chisolm had been fired from the SKS assault rifle. The fragments recovered from Officer Owen’s body were similar to the type of bullet fired from the SKS assault rifle, but he could not state conclusively that the fragments were from a bullet fired by the SKS assault rifle he tested. Rector testified that he examined the officers’ weapons and that Officer Bennett’s weapon and Officer Chisolm’s weapon functioned normally, but that Officer Owen’s firearm had a large defect in the metal near the trigger guard that severely damaged the gun and rendered it inoperable. In addition, the holster on Officer Owen’s duty belt was damaged, and Rector testified that the damage to the gun and holster were typical of what he would expect if they had been struck by a high-velocity bullet such as one fired by an SKS-type rifle. Rector also found that a portion of a bullet had been left inside Officer Owen’s holster, and he stated that the appearance of the bullet fragment was consistent with what is commonly found in SKS ammunition. None of the shell casings recovered at the scene had been fired from any of the officers’ weapons. Finally, Rector testified that he conducted a distance study regarding the gunshot wound to Officer Bennett’s face to determine how far the muzzle of the SKS assault rifle was from his face when it was fired. He determined that the end of the barrel of the SKS assault rifle was from two to six inches from the officer’s face when it was fired.

      Greg Parker testified that on December 4, 2003, before the shootings in this case, he was employed as a police officer by the City of Fairfield. While he was assisting other officers who were attempting to serve a warrant, Woods—who was not the person the officers were looking for—came from behind the residence and walked toward him. Officer Parker said that Woods was wearing a long trench coat, that he had his hands in his pockets, and that he looked suspicious. Officer Parker told Woods to remove his hands from his pockets because his job made him suspicious of people with their hands in their pockets because they might have a firearm; Officer Parker also told him that a sudden movement could get him shot. Officer Parker said that, in response, Woods “said he could have shot me.” (R. 1308.) Officer Parker asked Woods if he had a gun, and Woods said he did, so Officer Parker and the other officers restrained him. The officers removed from Woods’s pants what appeared to be an operational handgun but was actually a pellet gun. Woods was arrested on a charge of menacing.
      *14 William Powell, a Jefferson County deputy sheriff assigned to the jail, testified that when Woods was in jail on December 14, 2004, after the shootings in this case, he closed the door of Woods’s cell, and Woods called him derogatory names and then told him that he was “hiding behind [his] badge just like the other three mother fuckers.” (R. 1318.) Woods also told Deputy Powell that if he won his case and was released, he was going to come looking for him. Deputy Powell filed a report on the incident.

      Deputy Vince Gillum testified that he was employed by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and that he was assigned to the jail. He stated that, on June 22, 2005, he observed contraband on the wall of Woods’s cell—a drawing pasted to the wall—so he removed it. The drawing was admitted into evidence, and we have examined it. The drawing depicts two men shooting firearms. One man is shooting an assault rifle and three flaming skulls are depicted in the blasts from that weapon, and the other man is shooting two handguns. The drawing contains a heading at the top, “NATE $ NOOKIE,” and depicts street signs at an intersection of “18th Street and Ensley.” When Deputy Gillum removed the drawing, Woods said that the drawing was his and that he wanted it back.
      Deputy Sheriff Tonya Crocker testified that she was also assigned to the jail and that on July 29, 2005, she searched Woods’s cell. She found some broken razors and some drawings that concerned her. After obtaining a search warrant, Deputy Crocker seized several items from the bunk where Woods slept. The items included a handwritten document and two copies each of two separate drawings depicting “Nate” and “Nookie” shooting on 18th Street. One of the drawings depicted flaming skulls coming from the blast of what appears to be an assault rifle and the other drawing depicted a police car with many bullet holes in it.
      Detective Phillip Russell of the Birmingham Police Department testified that the trial court had ordered Woods to provide handwriting samples, so he obtained those samples from Woods using the procedure he had been instructed to use by the handwriting analyst who would later examine the samples. Det. Russell was instructed to have Woods repeatedly rewrite the words on the document found in his cell. We have reproduced those words exactly as they appear on the document:
      “Seven execution styles murders
      I have no remorse because I’m the fuckin murderer
      Haven’t you ever heard of a killa
      I drop pigs like Kerry Spencer
      So when I walk around strapped
      One time bust the caps and watch pigs clapse
      Snapp, adapt to this because I needs no adapter
      this is just the first chapter.”
      (State’s Exhibit 337–A.)
      Det. Russell testified that the document appeared to be an adaptation of the lyrics of a rap-style song by an artist named Dr. Dre, which he located by an Internet search.
      Steven Drexler testified that he had recently retired from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, where he had been with the questioned document and handwriting unit. He testified that he compared Woods’s known writing samples that were obtained by Det. Russell with the writing on the document obtained during the search of Woods’s cell. Drexler testified that, in his opinion, the document was written by Woods.
      Woods presented several witnesses in his defense. Markesha Williams testified that she had known Kerry Spencer for *15 about five days and that she had visited Spencer at the green apartments. She was at the apartment on the day of the shooting. Williams testified that, when the officers first came to the house, she heard Woods and Spencer talk back and forth with the police. She stated that Spencer told an officer that if the officer took his badge off Spencer would come outside, so the officer took his badge off, but Spencer remained inside. She said that the police left after approximately 10 minutes. She testified that, after the police left, Woods said that if the police kept coming back he was going to shoot them but that she did not take him seriously. Later, Williams saw two police cars drive down the back alley. She went into the living room, and Woods was standing at the screen door. When the two officers came to the door, Williams said, Woods asked them why they kept coming back “messing with ‘em.” (R. 1451.) Williams testified that after Woods and the police argued, the officers “snatched the door off the hinges,” wrestled Woods to the ground, and beat him. (R. 1452.) She said that she did not see anyone spray Mace; that she has asthma; and that she would have gotten sick if she had smelled or been around Mace. Williams testified that Courtney Spencer woke up his brother, who was sleeping; that Kerry Spencer went into the bedroom and looked out the window; and that he returned to the living room and grabbed the gun. Spencer said something to the police and then started shooting. Williams said that a third officer opened the front door, and Spencer shot him. She testified that Woods got up off the ground after the shooting started and that he was panicky. Williams testified that Woods did not open the door and he did not tell Spencer that another officer was at the front door. She said that she was the first person to run from the apartment after the shooting; that she did not see Woods or Spencer running from the apartment; and that she did not see who shot Officer Bennett in the face. Williams acknowledged that, when she gave a statement to the police after the shooting, she had said that based on what she had heard Woods and Spencer say after the police left the first time, she knew there would be a confrontation if the police returned, and that when the police officer asked if Woods and Spencer had planned the confrontation, she told him that it was planned. However, at trial, she testified that what she meant by her statement was that she expected a verbal confrontation, and that she did not expect anyone to shoot a police officer.
      Brandon Carter, an inmate, testified that he knew Woods from being incarcerated with him. He identified some of the drawings removed from Woods’s cell during the search and testified that he had copied them from the original and had given the copies to Woods. Carter testified that Woods did not ask him to draw the pictures for him.
      Travis Dumas, also an inmate, testified that he, like Fernando Belser, had worked as a “doorman” at the apartment from which Woods and Spencer sold drugs. He testified that he was at the apartment during the morning of the shooting and that he was awakened by someone kicking the front door. According to Dumas, Woods went to the front door and argued back and forth with the person. Dumas said that he recognized the voice of the person as Officer Owen’s voice because Officer Owen had been patrolling his neighborhood for many years. He heard Officer Owen tell Woods that he would be back. Dumas said that while Woods argued with Officer Owen at the front door, Spencer was arguing with officers at the back door; Dumas recognized Officer Chisolm as one of the officers at the back *16 door. After the police left, Dumas heard Spencer say that if the police came back, he was going to “bust ‘em,” meaning he was going to shoot them. (R. 1503.) Dumas said that he did not take Spencer’s comment seriously because he had heard other people talk about shooting the police before and he had said it himself. Dumas testified that he left the house to steal items from a grocery store nearby, and that after he “stole a whole bunch of everything,” he tried to return to the apartment but he could not because the police were everywhere. (R. 1504.)
      Woods also called codefendant Kerry Spencer to testify on his behalf; Spencer invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege and refused to testify. However, the trial court permitted the attorneys for the State and for Woods to read into the record Spencer’s testimony from his own trial.3 At his trial, Spencer admitted that he sold drugs from the apartment where the shooting occurred. He testified that he bought the SKS assault rifle the night before the shooting, and that he had test-fired it in the backyard. On the day of the shooting, Spencer said, Officer Owen kicked the front door of the apartment early in the morning, between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. He and Woods looked out the window and recognized the officer. Spencer said that Officer Owen returned to the apartment later that morning, parked in the backyard, and said something to Woods, who was standing at the back door, about stolen cars. Woods cursed at Officer Owen repeatedly, Spencer testified, and told him to get off the property. Spencer said that he went to a window in the bedroom and also cursed at Officer Owen; he told the officer to “get his weak ass the fuck on.” (R. 1548.) He said that Officer Owen told him that he had enough body bags for him too. According to Spencer, Officer Collins then drove into the yard and Officer Owen spoke to him. Officer Owen returned to the back door and tried to get him and Woods to come outside, but they continued to curse at him. Woods told Officer Owen that he hid behind his badge; Spencer said he agreed with Woods and told Officer Owen that if he took his badge off, they would come outside. Officer Owen then took the badge off and told them to come out, but they refused. Spencer said that a female neighbor then walked over and told Officer Owen to stop acting like that, and he put his badge back on and left soon after. Before he left, Spencer said, Officer Owen said he would be back when he got off work.
      Spencer testified that he then heard Woods speaking to someone and he saw that Woods was speaking to Officer Chisolm. Spencer said that he told the officer that he needed “to get the fuck away from the apartment. That he a fuck boy…. Basically just telling him get the fuck on.” (R. 1555–56.) He said that Officer Chisolm let them know that the police would be back and led Spencer to believe that he would be killed when they returned. Spencer said that he was in fear for his life. Spencer also said that neither he nor Woods gave their names to either of the officers.
      Spencer testified that he was asleep on the couch when the officers returned; the SKS assault rifle was beside his leg. He said that he heard a snap and got up and went into the bedroom so he could look out the window. Spencer stated that he saw the police cars outside and that he then heard a struggle, but that he did not know *17 the police were in the house. Spencer said that when he came out of the bedroom, Woods was coming out of the kitchen holding his face as if he were in pain; that he heard something beside him; and that, as he turned around, he saw Officer Chisolm raise his gun so he opened fire. (R. 1571.) Spencer said that he believed that the officer was going to shoot him and that he had no alternative but to fire his weapon. Spencer fired until Officers Chisolm and Owen were down. Spencer said that the front door then opened and that he saw Officer Bennett with a gun, so he shot him.
      Spencer said that he did not know if other officers were in the front of the apartment, so he went toward the back door. He saw Officer Owen’s gun on the floor beside him, and he took the gun because he did not want to be shot. He opened the back door and saw Officer Collins standing outside the apartment; Officer Collins took a few steps toward him with his gun in his hand. Spencer testified that he walked out of the apartment and that he and the officer looked eye-to-eye, and that the officer then ran behind his patrol car. Spencer said that he waited until Officer Collins was behind the car and then he fired a couple of shots into the windshield. He said that he could have shot and killed Officer Collins, but that he had no reason to because the officer posed no threat to him. Spencer stated that he then went to the front door and cautiously walked outside, holding the gun at his side, pointing down. While he was standing next to Officer Bennett, Spencer said, the officer’s hand “jumped and touched me, you know, and automatically, reflex, you know, I quickly shot.” (R. 1575.) After he shot Officer Bennett at close range, he threw the gun down and ran to a neighbor’s house. Spencer testified that he did not intend to kill any of the police officers but that he did what he had to do to avoid being shot and to stay alive. However, on cross-examination, Spencer acknowledged that in a prior statement to the police, he had said that he shot the officers because he was “pissed off.” (R. 1599.)
      In addition to Spencer’s testimony from his trial, the testimony of Randall Washington, who was declared an unavailable witness, from Spencer’s trial was also read into evidence at Woods’s trial. Washington testified at Spencer’s trial that he was in the backyard of the apartment working underneath Courtney Spencer’s car when the police arrived to arrest Woods. He heard someone say, “They’re back.” (R. 1639.) While the police were walking toward the apartment, Courtney Spencer raised his hand and said, “ ‘I don’t have anything to do with this. I’m just over here getting my car worked on,’ ” and he walked away. (R. 1624.) Washington said that he stayed under the car because he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for unpaid fines, and he did not want to be arrested. Washington heard Officer Owen say to someone at the back door that he had a warrant; Officer Owen said this to the person more than once. Washington next saw another officer walk around from the side of the apartment at a fast pace toward the screen door. Washington said that he then heard a snap and saw the police officer snatch open the screen door and enter the apartment. A second officer followed him, Washington said, but he did not see a third officer. Washington testified that, one to three minutes later, he heard gunshots. He stayed beneath the car until the shooting stopped, then he ran away.
      In rebuttal, the State recalled Det. Phillip Russell. Det. Russell testified that, when Spencer gave his statement to the police on the afternoon of the shooting, he admitted that he had killed the three officers, but, contrary to his testimony at his trial, he repeatedly denied taking Officer *18 Owen’s gun. Det. Russell also testified that Spencer did not say in his statement, as he did at his trial, that he was the one who shot Officer Bennett in the face. Finally, Det. Russell testified that he had asked Spencer where Woods was while Spencer was shooting, and Spencer said, “ ‘Nate had—he was running with me.’ ” (R. 1643.)

      1. I’m stunned the software let you post all of that. From which opinion or brief did you get that statement of facts?

        Thanks for the cite. It’s vital in discussions like these.

        1. Thanks GJ. I totally agree. Needed to see the statement of facts from an unbiased source. Not the family. Not the police. This was from the court of appeals that heard Nate Woods’ appeal, as it was presented during his trial by both sides.

      2. Jesus man, couldnt you have just posted a link?

        1. DenverJ,
          Sorry. I did warn y’all that it was long! The link wouldn’t have worked because it was a paid subscription. So, I had to do the copy/paste job. Hope the information was at least somewhat useful to you, to make an informed decision–one way or another about the case.

            1. Nail if you didn’t read it fine but I think that undermines your ability to comment on this article. It was long.

      3. A couple mates were minding their own business supplying their special brand of over-the counter medication to the consumer front, when all a’ sudden the [history’s victor] shows up and starts drumming on about methods to dismantle the whole ship.

        A few gunshots later, the deed was done. Now [history’s victor] is no more — and no less.

        Obviously, one major castle-based operation ruined by a lousy misdemeanor warrant and a can of sour whip.

        If facts matter … Then, if the state hadn’t executed Nat Woods, looks like the killer would have had any motive to had done so!!

        Conclusion: the state works both for Kerry Spencer AND for the of Alabaman peoples, both!

  2. Reading the links Davis did post (neither of which are exactly unbiased sources) still do not provide anything concrete to help point to Wood’s innocence.
    And why would it be unconstitutional to execute people earlier who opt for one method of execution over another? Provided he is provided the same options for appeals that anyone else has.
    And as far as I can tell, there is no evidence that the police were taking bribes like the defendants said they were. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me. But, just saying it doesn’t make it true.
    It does sound like he got somewhat screwed during the appellate process (at least as far as these sources are reporting).

    1. If there were no evidence of corruption, why did the judge feel it necessary to forbid its presentation? Doesn’t seem to have much to do with a self-defense claim; corruption is corruption.

      1. Judges are on the same team as the prosecutor and the cops. Their job is to get convictions, not justice.

        1. Makes me laugh when people think judges are impartial.

          1. Makes everyone laugh when you deny being Hihn, shit eater.

            1. He’s not Hihn. Hihn has a certain style he always uses. He repeats what his haters say in bold before refuting them. Hihn also says, “Left minus right = zero.”

              1. Sure you aren’t Hihn, Hihn

                1. Wait, I thought we were all… huh, drawing a blank. Little help?

          2. Police and prosecutors lie, people die, judges make excuses for their lies and more people die……

    2. The bleeding hearts and cop haters are out in full force. Next time they have a house robbery they should call the drug dealer they are so concerned about.

      1. Only if they want to risk the police executing the first person they see, then hiding behind qualified immunity to get away with it.

        Cowardice and guns don’t mix, especially when the coward knows he will get a free pass.

  3. “Woods, Jefferson County prosecutors told the jury at his 2005 trial, hated law enforcement and had lured the officers into the house so Spencer could kill them.”

    The police went there on their own, arrested Woods, and he was in handcuffs when the shooting started. What exactly did he do to lure the officers into an ambush?

    “Prosecutors called witnesses who testified they’d heard Woods talking about his disgust for the police. They called a so-called handwriting expert to tell the jury that Woods had written lyrics to a song by rapper Dr. Dre on a piece of paper in his county jail cell that referred to the police as “pigs.””

    Sounds like he had plenty to hate the police.

    1. “Prosecutors called witnesses who testified they’d heard Woods talking about his disgust for the police”

      Like who hasn’t?

    2. Congratulations on the longest comment in the history of this site.

      1. “Hold my beer,” said Ken Schultz.

  4. dafuq do you get the death penalty when you were in cuffs? no state should have the power to execute a person.

    1. Because the prosecution, based upon Woods’ contempt for the police, successfully argued that he was part of a conspiracy to lure cops into the dwelling and kill them. It is a completely absurd story that I’m sure the prosecutor knew was bogus, but he got this guy sentenced to death to further his career. Prosecutors are disgusting creatures that care only about winning, not about truth or justice.

      1. exactly this.

        1. I don’t care whether it’s a deterrent. My support is based on the fact murderers deserve to die.

          1. Actually it’s based on the fact that you’re stupid

            1. Trump supports the dp.

              1. Cool story bro.

              2. Like as in, the dp of your mom?

            2. Trump even supports the dp for innocent black teenagers, if I remember correctly.

              1. I’ll take “things I don’t care about” for 1000 Alex.

                Unlike you, my principles aren’t based on who else espouses them.

          2. yeah but you farm it out to others. be a vigilante or stfu

      2. I’m in favor of the death penalty for murder. This doesn’t sound like he earned it. Unless there’s something being left out, I’m not even sure he earned jail time aside from for his warrant

    2. This. Execution is so final, so irreversible, that it is immoral for a fallible system to impose it. Even if the courts are wrong one out of a million times, that single instance of wrongful conviction vacates the state of legitimacy. You can let an innocent out of prison if he proves his innocence. You can’t un-kill him.

      Also–to claim that the death penalty is a deterrent is completely asinine. Study after study, and our own reason, tell us that criminals do not consider the consequences at all when committing a crime. Vengeance is not a synonym for justice. The state should not be in the revenge business.

      1. If the death penalty was really intended to be a deterrent, executions would be held in stadiums and televised.
        It’s such a bullshit argument.

        1. I think they should be. Go back to good old fashioned public hangings. Let people see how horrible it is. They might think twice while on a jury, and criminals might think twice before stealing a horse.

          1. Do you admit it if stray dog is smarter than you. Should be an indicator that no one cares what you think

            1. For your enjoyment, troll who likes to mock everybody’s s/n including mine. This article says tax revenue DROPPED as a percentage of the GDP due to Trump’s tax cuts, even if it was technically a higher $ amount.

              1. “This article says tax revenue DROPPED as a percentage of the GDP due to Trump’s tax cuts”

                Ahahaha OF COURSE THEY DID IGNORAMUS, the GDP increased, and THATS WHAT TAX CUTS DO


                ” it was technically a higher $ amount.”

                Thank you for admitting I was correct, but I already knew that.

                Next time just say “you were correct” and save yourself the embarrassment of getting your misunderstandings explained to you lololol


                2. That really was a pretty brutal self-own.

            2. Your troll s/n’s are lame as fuck.

            3. Your silence is deafening, CUCK boy.

              1. Taking flak, over target

            4. Time’s up. I win.

              1. Lolol three frantic posts in a row prove otherwise guy who doesn’t understand economics ahahahaha

                Cry more!

          2. Even back in the day only a sadistic few showed up for public hangings. There has always been a sadistic streak dating back to our chimpanzee ancestors. Now we give those who enjoy public suffering and executions badges so we can identify them.

            So what police, or prosecutor’s office do you work for?

        2. Murderers deserve to die, CUCK.

          1. And how many non-murderers deserve to die to preserve the state power to execute murderers?

            Because that’s the objection many people have to the death penalty. That, due to imperfect human nature, we execute the innocent and guilty alike.

            So… how much innocent blood is an acceptable cost to slake your thirst?

            1. Okay, let’s only execute murderers if their guilt is plainly obvious. Still I see no need to totally end capital punishment. It also helps victims’ families.

              1. Okay, let’s only execute murderers if their guilt is plainly obvious.

                In most states, the burden for the jury is as high as it can be.

                So I dare say that most jurists that opt for the death penalty believe they are meeting that standard.

                And we know they get it wrong anyway.

              2. The point is that you can never be certain. Even confessions can be false. And let’s face it–governments are excellent at fucking things up.

                1. “The point is that you can never be certain”

                  No that isn’t the point, and it’s a stupid and patently false assertion that pollutes the discussion. There are many cases where we are 100% certain. Anyone arguing otherwise is a moron to be ignored.

                  The ACTUAL point is that the legal threshold isn’t “absolute certainty” but much lower, while masquerading as certainty.

                  1. For once I agree with you on something.

                    1. Oh fuck…

                  2. If they have power to kill, they will use it and they will make mistakes. You can’t point to an example of obvious guilt as the justification for the practice. I can point to any of the many wrongful executions as proof that it is a failed, morally corrupt institution which should be abolished.

              3. Plainly guilty?

                IANAL, but I think the jury only has the options of “Guilty” or “Not Guilty”. “Guilty as Sin” is not in the mix.

              4. In a system where only some laws are enforced against some of the people some of the time, the idea of a “guilt is plainly obvious” is largely a myth developed by police and prosecutors to execute the people they don’t like.

                Prosecutors and police have a documented history of lying that is so long it’s really a question whether they are capable of telling the truth at all. Given their pattern of sociopathic deception and lack of concern for human life, these people should not be trusted as cross guards, let alone whether an individual lives for dies.

        3. I don’t care if it’s a deterrent or not. If you commit a heinous crime like first degree murder, you should die.

          1. How many degrees of Kevin Bacon do you have to go to to find all the “accessories” that “deserve to die”?

          2. I don’t think the criminal code should be based on your emotionally stunted need for blood revenge.

            You either value human life or you don’t. If you don’t, you are ethically equal to the murdered you want executed. Perhaps worse because their crime was motivated by selfishness, or some other trait better than your revenge based motivation.

            You’re the reason lynching was outlawed.

      2. My opposition to the death penalty is more about the Non Aggression Principle. A man on death row isn’t an imminent threat, so killing him is murder.

    3. I don’t oppose the death penalty in principle, but I do oppose how it has been practiced. In practice, people who can’t afford a good attorney are convicted and sentenced to death too often (easy scores for ambitious DAs who can overwhelm bad defense attorneys). People who can afford a good attorney (or team of attorneys) are convicted and sentenced to death too rarely (DAs typically put forth minimal effort because they have limited time and there are lots of easier cases available for them to pad their conviction stats). The wealth of the accused plays far too large of a role in something where, in an ideal world, wealth would play no role whatsoever.

      I’m a realist and understand that we won’t ever have a justice system where wealth has zero influence over outcomes, but the least we could do is make it more difficult for ambitious DAs to get people sentenced to death on flimsy evidence. The evidentiary bar for sentencing someone to death should be higher than for a simple conviction because execution is irreversible.

      I also support the idea of sentencing corrupt law enforcement (police, DAs, and judges) to the maximum sentence of the people they railroad. For example, if a DA withholds evidence for the trial of someone charged with capital murder, the DA should be sentenced to death. Withholding evidence is never a mistake. It is a calculated action. Therefore, harsh punishment for withholding evidence should work as a deterrent of such behavior.

  5. I hope a cop never gets shot while I’m in handcuffs. It’s no secret that I have nothing but contempt for people who zealously enforce unjust legislation.

    1. Jesus fucking christ how are you STILL CRYING ABOUT THAT


      Get it though your head, you fucked up got caught and acted like a cunt, no one cares that you ott treated like a cunt

  6. At first I thought this was going to be Reason crying wolf about another felony murder charge. It sounds like, based on the facts, Woods did absolutely nothing except try to avoid or resist arrest. Not an execution-worthy offense.

    Fuck these assholes.

  7. Surely you can find a more sympathetic example. I don’t agree that he should be executed but I would have trouble arguing against an arbitrarily long prison sentence.

    My biggest complaint about the death penalty is when there is potential doubt about guilt. Here there is no doubt, only a disagreement on the level of punishment. 10 out of 12 said kill him. Maybe we should have a higher standard of 12 out of 12, but 10 isn’t existentially wrong to me.

    1. >>10 out of 12 said kill him

      probably should hope I’m on your jury … or stay out of Alabama

    2. Reading the case against Woods’s roommate and fellow dopeslinger, I don’t think Woods meets the criteria for either an accomplice in a capital murder or as a co-conspirator. The details in the Spencer case make Woods out to be an ignorant dumbfuck—who trashtalks the cops when his apartment likely has dope in it, and he’s got an assault charge he FTA’d on?—-but it doesn’t appear to me like he intended for his roommate to flip out and ambush 3 cops with an SKS. Nor does it seem a foreseeable consequence of his actions.

      So, I don’t see why this particular piece of shit deserves death. Perhaps there’s additional information indicating Woods thought Spencer would go nuts, but I didn’t see it in that opinion.

      1. That’s my impression as well. From reading the appellate document posted above, I did not see adequate evidence of specific intent to commit the specific act, nor specific or planning for the specific offense, ar least not beyond reasonable doubt to support 1st degree murder conviction.

        1. Wouldn’t warning Spencer that Officer Bennett was at the front door constitute an overt act? Even though Belser testified that Woods didn’t specifically tell Spencer to kill Bennett, Woods does seem to take responsibility for killing Bennett. Scott testified that Woods said, “They fucked with the wrong niggers. We killed their asses.” Prathers testified that Woods said, “You came through for me.” I think a jury could reasonably interpret those facts to mean that not only was Woods happy that the officers were killed, but that he wanted Spencer to kill Bennett when he warned him, even though he didn’t say that explicitly. But IANAL, so I’m not sure if that act is legally sufficient to make Woods an accomplice.

    3. “My biggest complaint about the death penalty is when there is potential doubt about guilt.”

      One you learn that the criminal system is staffed by sociopathic liars, you come to realize they will claim everyone they want murdered is a sure thing.

      What could possibly go wrong?

  8. I can see opposing the death penalty in certain cases, including this one, where the jury verdict was not unanimous. However, people who oppose the death penalty in all cases are wimpy cucks. If a person’s guilt is obvious, he should be executed. This is one issue where I disagree with the LP.

    1. Theoretically, I agree.

      But in practice, we see, over and over, that prosecutors and juries will not stick to that standard.

      So as I asked above… how much innocent blood is acceptable? Because there is no enforced death penalty system that avoids it.

      1. Juries are instructed to vote to convict based on the “beyond a reasonable doubt” threshold. They should be instructed to vote for death based on a threshold that goes even beyond that. This should be codified.

    2. The problem is that you can’t set an arbitrary threshold for obviousness of guilt. There are no degrees. Many innocent people have been executed in Western democracies.

    3. If a person’s guilt is obvious for what crimes? Any murder? Manslaughter too? Reckless homicide? Where would you draw the line?

      Also, what good does killing someone do? The point of sentencing should be restitution, compensation and public safety. Killing someone doesn’t make the public any safer than putting them in prison and killing them certainly prevents them from ever providing any compensation to anyone.

      Finally, plenty of innocent people have been “obviously” guilty in court because corrupt cops and prosecutors hid exculpatory evidence. If/when that evidence eventually comes out, it doesn’t do any good if the person was already executed.

      Sure, some people probably deserve to die, but we don’t have a system short of immediate self defense that deserves to make that determination.

    4. “However, people who oppose the death penalty in all cases are wimpy cucks.”

      So you sit at home fat and stupid watching television and acting smug while the State puts someone to death at no risk to you.

      Wow, you are so brave!

  9. AL Supreme Court has issued a stay.

    1. SCOTUS, that is.

  10. The Supreme Court, specifically Thomas, granted a stay!

    1. Huh. That’s… weird. He’s one of the ones that normally ignores the details of death penalty cases and says the liberals are just trying to outlaw the death penalty.

      1. I don’t think it’s weird at all. SCOTUS is deciding a case exactly on point here. Why not wait until it’s concluded before killing this guy or not? He’s not going anywhere.

        1. The Supreme Court has vacated the stay and denied review:

          “The application for stay of execution of sentence of death
          presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the Court is
          denied. The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied. The
          order heretofore entered by Justice Thomas is vacated.”

          1. Well now they are just fucking with him.

            1. I’ve never seen the Supreme Court go, “Psych!!!”, before to a criminal defendant. What a weird way for the case to turn out.

              Even worse if Ramos ends up holding no death sentence unless unanimity.

  11. Never give the state the power of execution.

    1. The REAL reason to do away with the death penalty.

    2. The very definition of a state – any state- is the power of lethal force.

      1. Execution is only one type of lethal force. A cop killing an active shooter is not an execution. A soldier killing an enemy combatant on the battlefield is not an execution.

      2. “The very definition of a state – any state- is the power of lethal force.”

        That’s part of the definition, You left out the “with no personal accountability for oversight” part.

  12. “Woods, Jefferson County prosecutors told the jury at his 2005 trial, hated law enforcement…”

    I “hate law enforcement” too. Does that make me guilty of anything?

    How can a handcuffed individual be guilty of murder?

    1. Reba Mcentire had it right.

      Don’t trust your soul to no backwoods southern lawyer.

      1. Didn’t Reba ever read “To Kill a Mockingbird?”

        1. Might be cheesy southern pop ballad but Reba had the chops to make it work.

          If anyone cares found this version.

  13. Woods, Jefferson County prosecutors told the jury at his 2005 trial, hated law enforcement and had lured the officers into the house so Spencer could kill them.

    If they actually proved to the jury that Woods was part of such a plan to “lure” the officers into the house so they could be killed, then the death penalty would be justified. This story says nothing about any evidence of such planned luring, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any. And statements from Woods that he “hates” cops do not constitute any sort of evidence in that regard.

    1. I remember when this happened. I don’t remember there being any doubt that this was a half-baked planned ambush.

      1. All I’m going by is the appellate opinion for Spencer, but this doesn’t look planned at all by Woods. I doubt the guy planned anything in his life. It looks like an idiot running from the cops, who was such an ignorant fuckhead frequent flyer that he didn’t realize he still had paper on him. He runs, ‘doesn’t get too far’, and then his trippin’ roommate decides it’s time to kill some pigs.

        Maybe all of this was a plan cooked up by those two? I didn’t see enough evidence of that in that opinion to convince me. I did read where the DA in Spenser’s case did a poor job of jury selection and got 2-3 bleeding hearts. Seriously, how do you get a 10-2 or 9-3 verdict on an ambush killing of three cops?

        I don’t see, beyond a reasonable doubt, evidence of premeditation or planning by Woods, or any idea that by him that Spencer was likely to snap. Clearly, most of the jury disagreed.

        1. this doesn’t look planned at all by Woods.

          From what NoSkinInTheGame posted, “doesn’t look planned at all” seems way to strong. First off, we’re probably dealing 70 IQ here, so nothing is going to look like what we’d think of as a plan. Second, he hung around awhile the cops went to get the warrant, and then pointlessly taunted them. He was certainly up to something.

          1. Going along with your observation he likely has a sub normal IQ, I think it might be as simple as: he knew the house didn’t have any dope in it, at that moment, and he forgot he had a warrant. Plus neither he, Spencer, or the cops liked each other, judging by all of the ‘I’ll take my badge off and see if you still say it’ ghetto bullshit detailed upthread. Maybe Woods also thought that, even if he had a warrant, the cops couldn’t run into his house to grab him? It works in a similar way for misdemeanor FTA warrants in some states.

            Agree that it’s hard to put yourself in the mind of a retard like this guy. It just to me didn’t look like any kind of a plan by Woods to ambush those cops. You, and the jury, and the DA, disagree.

            1. You could spin the narrative your way or, you could equally spin it any number of different ways. The narrative the jury believed was Woods lured the cops to their deaths. You can believe that and still believe his IQ was subnormal.

              Also, if Woods had previous encounters with the police where the ended up in his home, as recorded in the record, your premise is flawed.

              1. No proof beyond reasonable doubt from what I read.

              2. They wouldn’t be susceptible to “luring” if they weren’t sub-normal themselves. They signed up to do a job whose description is, “Fuck with people who aren’t bothering anyone.”

  14. It’s all over for him. He was pronounced dead at 9:01 p.m. CST.

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  16. “Woods was charged and convicted as an accomplice…”

    a person who helps another commit a crime.

    Zuri and the family can argue that he didn’t commit the crimes, but a jury disagreed.

    1. Juries usually see 5-10% of the evidence that is controlled and decided entirely by the prosecutor.

      The judge is there to ensure nothing that would compromise the states’ case is allowed into evidence by the defendant.

      The Greeks who invented the jury trial over 2,500 years ago did not allow for judges because to them it seemed an obvious point of corruption,

      The current American trial system where judges ensure juries are only presented with information that supports the prosecutor narrative, now matter how dishonest our contradicted by the evidence the prosecutor chooses to exclude seems to confirm the Greeks were correct. A judge is simply there to put the veneer of credibility on the kabuki theater called the American criminal system. Once aa prosecutor decides who is to be punished, the primary job of a judge is to ensure no facts keep that from happening.

  17. This country was never about fairness and honesty, you get as much justice as you can afford. Too bad these guys just didn’t have enough money to purchase their justice.

  18. I’ve been looking around, where is it stated that he was in cuffs, other than in this article?

  19. “Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Tommy Nail did not allow evidence of police corruption to be presented at Woods’ trial because he was not arguing self-defense. This fact, and inadequate representation by his trial and appellate lawyers, ultimately doomed him to death.”

    “This fact …” = Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Tommy Nail did not allow evidence of police corruption to be presented at Woods’ trial

    You can’t make the claim you made about the above statement contributing to his death. I mean, you can, and did, but you assumed the evidence of police corruption being presented by the defense was some type of irrefutable slam dunk.

  20. “The shooting, they argue, had been brought on by years of police misconduct involving a bribery scheme. They’ve alleged that key witnesses falsely testified or didn’t testify at all as part of undisclosed deals with the police. And they’ve alleged that the performance of Woods’s trial attorneys—neither of whom had tried a capital murder case before—was deficient.”

    What is their argument this was self defense not cold blooded murder? I’m not sure about the complicity of that dirtbag Woods, so wouldn’t execute him but his attorneys laying out this cold blooded murder as being “caused” by bribery? Nah.

  21. Let that be a lesson.

  22. Hope the cops think it was all worth it to stop voluntary transactions between consenting adults.

  23. I support the death penalty in certain cases but if you have a guy in custody with handcuffs and someone else starts shooting it seems the guy in custody is not involved in shooting. The prosecutors position seems sketchy to me.

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