This story has been updated*
The U.S. Supreme Court lifted its temporary stay of a planned execution of Alabama death row inmate Nathaniel Woods after further reviewing his case Thursday night.
Nathaniel Woods, 44, who was convicted for his role in the fatal shootings of three Birmingham police officers in 2004, had been set to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. in Holman Prison — the first execution in the state this year.
Nathaniel Woods, 43, was scheduled to receive a lethal injection at the state prison in Atmore, Alabama, unless the governor or courts ultimately intervene.
In Washington, the Supreme Court announced it was staying the execution, which had been scheduled for 6 p.m. CST, to consider his appeal. A one-sentence statement didn’t elaborate on how long the stay would remain in effect as Alabama officials awaited word on whether they would proceed later.
The court said only that the death sentence was “stayed pending further order” of the court.
Woods and Kerry Spencer were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in the slayings of the three Birmingham officers.
Woods’ co-defendant, Kerry Spencer, who has confessed to being the triggerman and denies Woods was complicit, implored for his execution to be stopped.
“Nathaniel Woods is 100% innocent,” Spencer, who remains on death row, wrote in an open letter. “I know that to be a fact because I’m the person that shot and killed all three of the officers that Nathaniel was subsequently charged and convicted of murdering. Nathaniel Woods doesn’t even deserve to be incarcerated, much less executed.”
Supporters of Woods have said he was the victim of incompetent counsel who failed to conduct an adequate investigation and missed key deadlines for appeals. Woods could have benefited from a plea deal of 20 to 25 years in prison, but supporters said he was wrongly informed by his own attorneys that he wouldn’t be convicted of capital murder because the state needed to prove he pulled the trigger.
“Mr. Woods did not accept this plea deal because he thought — with counsel’s encouragement — that he would be acquitted of these charges because the evidence would prove that he was not the shooter that day,” according to a petition objecting to his imprisonment.
In addition, supporters said, no evidence was produced that showed Woods plotted with Spencer and that it was Spencer who acted impulsively on his own when he opened fire.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement Wednesday that the concerted effort by supporters is a “last-minute movement … to ‘save’ cop-killer Nathaniel Woods from his just punishment.”
Death row inmate Nathaniel Woods Jr. was executed by lethal injection at 9:01 p.m. Thursday for his role in the 2004 killings of three Alabama police officers — who were shot by another man at a suspected drug house.
Woods, 43, had no last words before becoming the first person to be executed in the state this year, despite efforts on his behalf by Martin Luther King III, Kim Kardashian West and other supporters.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied a request to halt the proceeding Thursday after issuing a temporary stay hours earlier. It was carried out after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey told the attorney for Woods she had denied a request for clemency.