January 21, 2016 / 1:59 PM / 4 years ago

Alabama to carry out first death penalty since 2013 on rapist: murderer

(Reuters) - The state of Alabama on Thursday executed a 44-year-old man convicted of raping and murdering a woman in 1992, a prison official said, the first execution in that state since 2013.

Death row inmate Christopher Brooks is seen in an undated picture from the Alabama Department of Corrections. Brooks is scheduled to be executed on Thursday. REUTERS/Alabama Department of Corrections/Handout via Reuters

Christopher Brooks was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 6:38 p.m. CST at the state’s death chamber in Atmore, prison spokesman Bob Horton said.

Brooks’ was the third U.S. execution of the year, coming just one day after an execution in Texas.

There were no complications with the execution, the spokesman said. This was the first time Alabama used a new three-drug protocol that includes midazolam, a sedative that has drawn national scrutiny after several botched executions.

Brooks gave a brief statement before he died, thanking family members, Horton said. “I hope this brings closure to everyone,” Brooks said, according to Horton.

There were 28 executions in the United States last year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors capital punishment nationwide.

Brooks was sentenced to death for bludgeoning 23-year-old Jo Deann Campbell to death in her apartment. The pair had previously met as summer camp counselors in New York. Shortly before her death, Campbell told a friend Brooks was “sleeping on her living room floor,” court records show.

Brooks’ DNA was found on Campbell’s body, and his bloody fingerprint was identified on a doorknob in her apartment, according to records. When he was arrested, Brooks had her car keys, credit card and personal checks.

He was one of six Alabama death row inmates who had challenged the state’s use of midazolam, a sedative used during the lethal injection protocol. The drug has drawn national scrutiny after several botched executions.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June said midazolam did not violate a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment and cleared the drug for use in a 5-4 ruling on a challenge brought by three Oklahoma death row inmates.

In March, the Alabama Supreme Court stayed Brooks’ execution pending the outcome of the high court’s ruling in the Oklahoma case, according to court records.

But U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins recently denied Brooks’ request to further delay his execution over the Alabama challenge, noting that the inmate had not joined the litigation until late last fall.

“Naturally, Brooks wants in the game,” Watkins wrote, “and he is of late on the roster.”

Additional reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida in Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Sandra Maler

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