Two men were executed Wednesday, November 16 in the US states of Arizona and Texas, sentenced to death for murders. Murray Hooper, a 76-year-old African-American, received a lethal injection in Florence Penitentiary on Wednesday morning, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement. For “the most vile crimes (…) we must never forget the victims nor give up on bringing justice”did he declare.
According to prosecutors, on New Year’s Eve in 1980, Murray Hooper and two accomplices broke into a house to rob it, tied up the three occupants before shooting them in the head. A man and his mother-in-law were dead, his wife survived and later identified the three assailants. All three were sentenced to death in 1983, but the other two died in custody before being executed. Murray Hooper has always maintained his innocence without convincing the courts.
In addition, the neighboring state of Texas executed Stephen Barbee, 55, in the evening. He was sentenced to death in 2006 for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time, and her seven-year-old son. He had initially admitted the facts, but had quickly retracted saying that he had been forced by the police to make a false confession. Since his conviction, he had engaged in an intense legal battle and had obtained suspended sentences twice.
A quarter of death row inmates are over 60
His lawyers filed a final appeal with the United States Supreme Court on Tuesday. They criticized local prison authorities for not having a clear policy in place regarding the religious rights of convicts in the death chamber. They replied that they had agreed to all of Stephen Barbee’s requests, including that his chaplain hold his hand during the injection. Stephen Barbee becomes the 15th convict executed this year in the United States.
In the United States, it is not uncommon for decades to elapse between a death penalty sentence and its application, so many are the possible legal remedies after the sentence. At the end of 2020, nearly a quarter of those held on death row in the United States were over the age of 60, according to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).