The Alabama Supreme Court today set Jan. 21 as the execution date for death row inmate Christopher Brooks, who was convicted in the 1992 rape and murder of a Homewood woman.
Brooks had exhausted hisDIRECT appeals and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office on Sept. 24 asked the Alabama Supreme Court.
The execution is to take place at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore where the majority of death row inmates are housed.
But John Palombi, assistant federal defender with the Federal Defenders for the Middle District of Alabama, said the execution date is too early because Brooks, along with other inmates, should be given a chance to continue their legal fight against the state’s lethal injection method to its conclusion.
“This action is premature,” Palombi wrote Monday in an email to Al.com. “Mr. Brooks has moved to intervene in an action challenging Alabama’s method of execution.”
Palombi wrote that the Alabama Attorney General’s Office has not opposed Brooks’ motion to intervene. U.S. District Court Judge Keith Watkins approved the motion to intervene today.
A final evidentiary hearing for the other five death row inmates is set for April 19, 2016, Palombi stated. “To execute him (Brooks) before then using the present method would subject him to a substantial risk of serious harm, as the current protocol uses an inadequate anesthetic, a paralytic that causes suffocation and a third drug that causes the sensation of being burned alive from the inside,” he wrote.
If Brooks were to be executed, it would be the first in Alabama in more than two years.
Brooks’ attorneys have said that Brooks’ conventional appeals ended in March 2014 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review his case.
Brooks was convicted in 1993 of murder during the course of a rape, robbery, and burglary for killing Jo Deann Campbell. A jury recommended Brooks receive the death penalty and a judge sentenced him to death.
According to the appeal court records Campbell and Brooks had met while working as counselors at a camp in New York state. On Dec. 31, 1992, her body was found under the bed in the bedroom of her Homewood apartment. She had been bludgeoned to death, and was naked from the waist down.
DNA taken from semen found in the victim’s body, a palm print on one of Campbell’s ankles, and bloody fingerprints on her bedroom door were all linked to Brooks.
A friend of Brooks, who also was at the apartment, was not indicted on charges.
Brooks and other death row inmates this spring had executions stayed pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Oklahoma inmate Richard Glossip, who along with other inmates, challenged the constitutionality of the use of the sedative midazolam in Oklahoma’s three-drug execution protocol.
Alabama was among 13 states to file briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Oklahoma’s execution method, which is similar to their own methods.
An injection of 500 milligrams of midazolam hydrochloride is part of Alabama’s new three-drug combination used for lethal injections. The other drugs are 600 milligrams of rocuronium bromide to stop breathing, and 240 “milliequivalents” of potassium chloride to stop the heart.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, did not believe the arguments that the drug combination including midazolam was cruel and unusual punishment.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling is based on facts in the Oklahoma case, not on Alabama’s three-drug lethal injection protocol, Brooks’ attorneys’ argue in their response.