According to court documents James Barber knew Dorothy Epps for the majority of his life and decided to rob her. Barber would head to the farm owned by Dorothy Epps when he knew her husband would be out of town and would murder the seventy five year old woman
James Barber would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
James Barber was executed by lethal injection on July 20 2023
James Barber News
Amid fears of another botched execution, Alabama plans to put James Barber to death on Thursday or early Friday after a federal appeals court upheld a decision not to halt his execution despite his claim that lethal injection could result in cruel and unusual punishment.
Barber, sentenced to death for the 2001 murder of 75-year-old Dorothy Epps, is scheduled to be executed at any time during a 30-hour period that began at midnight Thursday morning and will last until 6 a.m. Friday, court documents show.
The inmate sought to have a US District Court prevent the state from executing him by any method other than nitrogen hypoxia, an alternative to lethal injection that is allowed under Alabama law but has yet to be used.
Barber argued an execution by lethal injection would violate his rights under the Eighth Amendment, according to his initial complaint, which pointed to three allegedly botched executions in Alabama last year, in which Barber’s attorneys said Department of Corrections officials struggled to set intravenous lines in the condemned inmates’ veins to deliver the fatal drugs.
One of those executions ultimately resulted in the death of the inmate while the two others were called off, with the state citing time constraints due to late-night court battles that prevented the executions from being carried out before the inmates’ execution warrants expired. Taken together, they prompted heightened scrutiny of Alabama’s lethal injection process and led Gov. Kay Ivey last November to ask Attorney General Steve Marshall to halt executions for a “top-to-bottom review” of its protocol.
In February, Ivey said executions could resume after the Department of Corrections completed its review and said it would take several steps to address issues with the lethal injection protocol, including expanding the pool of personnel available for the execution team and conducting rehearsals to ensure staff were well-trained, among other steps.
But Barber – who would be the first inmate executed since the review – argued Alabama had “not made any meaningful improvements to their lethal injection protocol,” according to his motion for a preliminary injunction, other than by expanding the window in which officials could carry out an execution
In his appeal, Barber’s attorneys argued he faces a “substantial risk of severe harm” due to his elevated body mass index, which they said makes it more difficult to access his veins. This complication makes him vulnerable to suffering a failed lethal injection, they said.
Instead, Barber had asked to be put to death by nitrogen gas. The state legislature has approved this alternative execution method, but the state has said it hasn’t finalized its protocols.
The US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama denied Barber’s motion, prompting his attorneys to appeal earlier this week to the 11th Circuit. That court, however, similarly rejected Barber’s argument by upholding the district court’s decision in an opinion Wednesday. The judges wrote, in part, that the inmate’s claim he would suffer the same problems as the inmates before him was “purely speculative” in light of the Department of Corrections’ newly-implemented changes
James Barber Execution
Alabama executed a man on Friday for the 2001 beating death of a woman as the state resumed lethal injections after two failed executions prompted the governor to order an internal review of procedures.
James Barber, 64, was pronounced dead at 1:56 a.m. after receiving a lethal injection at a south Alabama prison.
Barber was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2001 beating death of 75-year-old Dorothy Epps. Prosecutors said Barber, a handyman, confessed to killing Epps with a claw hammer and fleeing with her purse. Jurors voted 11-1 to recommend a death sentence, which a judge imposed.
Before he was put to death, Barber told his family he loved them and apologized to Epps’ family.
“I want to tell the Epps’ family I love them. I’m sorry for what happened,” Barber said. “No words would fit how I feel.”
Barber said he wanted to tell the governor “and the people in this room that I forgive you for what you are about to do.”
It was the first execution carried out in Alabama this year after the state halted executions last fall. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced a pause on executions in November to conduct an internal review of procedures.
The move came after the state halted two lethal injections because of difficulties inserting IVs into the condemned men’s veins.
Attorneys for inmate Alan Miller said prison staff poked him with needles for more than an hour as they unsuccessfully tried to connect an IV line during Miller’s aborted execution in September, at one point leaving him hanging vertically on a gurney. Advocacy groups claimed a third execution, carried out after a delay because of IV problems, also was botched, a claim the state has disputed.
Barber’s attorneys unsuccessfully asked the courts to block the execution, saying the state has a pattern of failing “to carry out a lethal injection execution in a constitutional manner.”
The Supreme Court denied Barber’s request for a stay without comment. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissent from the decision that was joined by Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. She said the court was allowing “Alabama to experiment again with a human life.”
“The Eighth Amendment demands more than the State’s word that this time will be different. The Court should not allow Alabama to test the efficacy of its internal review by using Barber as its ‘guinea pig,’” Sotomayor wrote.
After his last words, Barber spoke with a spiritual adviser who accompanied him into the death chamber. As the drugs were administered, Barber’s eyes closed and his abdomen pulsed several times. His breathing slowed until it was no longer visible.
Barber’s execution came hours after Oklahoma executed Jemaine Cannon for stabbing a Tulsa woman to death with a butcher knife in 1995 after his escape from a prison work center.
The last-minute legal battle centered on Alabama’s ability to obtain intravenous access in past executions. Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said the two intravenous lines were connected to Barber with “three sticks in six minutes.”
The state wrote in legal filings that it was using different IV team members. The state also changed the deadline to carry out the execution from midnight to 6 a.m. to give more time for preparations and to carry out last-minute appeals.
“Justice has been served. This morning, James Barber was put to death for the terrible crime he committed over two decades ago: the especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel murder of Dorothy Epps,” Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement.