Alabama inmate Matthew Reeves executed by lethal injection

ATMORE, Ala. — An Alabama inmate convicted for the shotgun slaying of a Selma man in 1996 was executed by lethal injection on Thursday night.

>> Read more trending news

Matthew Reeves, 43, was pronounced dead at 9:24 p.m. CST at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore. He had no final words as he was led to the gurney in the execution chamber, reported.

By a 5-4 margin, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted its stay of Reeves’ execution Thursday evening, allowing Alabama prison officials to proceed, the website reported.

Defense attorneys had argued that Reeves’ intellectual disability should disqualify him from being executed, reported. The defense also claimed that the state did not allow Reeves to choose an untried and less “torturous” method of execution. Reeves’ attorneys claimed that prison officials violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, WIAT-TV reported. Attorneys claim that prison officials did not provide Reeves an accommodation to understand a form that would have allowed him to choose death by nitrogen suffocation, the television station reported.

Nitrogen hypoxia was approved in 2018 by Alabama lawmakers, reported. The state is finalizing its nitrogen suffocation protocol, and state lawyers said it will be ready by late April or May 2022, WIAT reported. Alabama had switched from the electric chair to lethal injection after 2002.

Reeves was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Willie Johnson, who was fatally shot in the neck by a shotgun blast in Selma, The Associated Press reported.

Johnson had picked up Reeves and several others on the side of a rural highway on Nov. 27, 1996, the news outlet reported. Johnson was robbed of $360.

Later, Reeves, who was 18 at the time, attended a party where he danced and mimicked Johnson’s death convulsions, authorities said.

Supreme Court justices Amy Coney Barrett, Elena Kagan Justice, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer dissented in the case, reported.

“This court should have left the matter there, rather than enable Reeves’ execution by lethal injection to go forward,” Kagan wrote.