James Barber, a killer from Alabama who battered an elderly woman to death with a claw hammer, gave a “haunting” statement directed at her family just moments before his execution, RadarOnline.com has learned.
According to the Mirror, Barber cried out to the victim’s family in the final moments before his death, saying, “I love them. I’m sorry for what happened.”
He went on to tell Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and those taking part in the execution, “I forgive you for what you are about to do.”
In the early hours of Friday, July 21, Barber was executed by lethal injection in Alabama for the brutal murder of 75-year-old Dorothy Epps in 2001. The execution marked the state’s resumption of lethal injections after reviewing its use.
Barber, a 64-year-old handyman, confessed to killing Epps with a claw hammer and stealing her purse. The frenzied attack left the elderly woman with fatal injuries to her body and head. His crime was met with widespread outrage, resulting in his placement on death row in 2004.
After a series of appeals spanning over a decade, Barber’s execution took place on Thursday, July 20. Prior to his death, he was allowed 22 visitors and received two phone calls, according to a spokesperson from the prison. His final meal consisted of loaded hashbrowns, an omelette, spicy sausage, and toast.
The execution of Barber is significant as it marks the first execution carried out by Alabama this year. The state had temporarily halted executions in the fall of last year following concerns over the insertion of intravenous lines during previous lethal injections. An internal review was conducted to address these issues.
Advocacy groups have raised concerns about the botched execution of a condemned man following delays due to IV problems. However, the state has disputed these claims, further intensifying the debate around capital punishment.
Barber’s request for a stay was denied by the Supreme Court, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissenting from the decision. In her dissent, she criticized Alabama’s handling of the execution, accusing the state of “experimenting again with a human life.”
Sotomayor wrote, “The Eighth Amendment demands more than the State’s word that this time will be different. The Court should now allow Alabama to test the efficacy of its internal review by using Barber as its ‘guinea pig.'”
“Justice has been served,” Attorney General Steve Marshall said in an official statement following the execution. “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.”