U.S. News

Alabama, Indiana execute death row inmates

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - The U.S. state of Alabama executed a death row inmate, Aaron Lee Jones, by lethal injection Thursday, the state’s first execution of the year and its 36th since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.

Early on Friday, the state of Indiana executed a man who killed an elderly neighbor during a break-in 23 years ago.

Jones, 55, was convicted in 1979 of the November 10, 1978, murders of Carl and Willene Nelson in Blount County, northeast of Birmingham, during a home robbery.

Jones and an accomplice also shot and stabbed the couple’s three children and the children’s grandmother. The children and the grandmother survived the attacks.

Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett said Jones died at 7:29 EDT (1129 GMT), and that he had a pepper steak and black-eyed peas as a last meal.

“He had no last words,” Corbett said, adding the lethal injection had been carried out in a routine manner from the authorities’ point of view.

Lethal injection is the primary method of execution for 37 U.S. states and the federal government, although more than a dozen states have halted or suspended the procedure because of legal or ethical questions.

David Woods, who was pronounced dead at 1:35 a.m. EDT (0535 GMT) on Friday, was also executed by lethal injection, officials at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City said.

Woods, 42, was convicted in the stabbing death of 77-year-old Juan Placencia in 1984. In a final statement, Woods apologized to Placencia’s family and said he felt remorse for his crime.

For his last meal, Woods had pizza with about 15 family members who came to the prison, officials said.

Woods had tried to block the execution in court, claiming he would be subjected to unwarranted pain and suffering -- an argument that others on death row have raised in a spate of challenges to lethal injection.

His was the 17th execution in the United States this year and the 1,074th since capital punishment was restored in the United States, according to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Additional reporting by Karen Murphy