Alabama’s Casey McWhorter Set for Execution Amid Controversy Over Legal Age
An Alabama inmate, Casey McWhorter, 49, is scheduled for execution by lethal injection this Thursday for the 1993 murder of Edward Lee Williams, 34, during a home robbery. The case has reignited discussions on the legal age for capital punishment due to McWhorter’s age at the time of the crime.
The Crime and Conviction
In 1993, McWhorter, then just over 18, alongside two minors, including the victim’s son, plotted to rob and murder Williams. Prosecutors detailed how McWhorter and his accomplices, Edward Lee Williams Jr., then 15, and Daniel Miner, 16, armed themselves with rifles and homemade silencers to carry out the crime. When confronted by Williams, a struggle ensued, leading to McWhorter shooting Williams 11 times.
A jury convicted McWhorter and recommended the death penalty by a 10-2 vote, a sentence later imposed by the presiding judge. Williams Jr. and Miner received life sentences.
Reflections and Appeals
Reflecting on his actions from decades ago, McWhorter expressed remorse in a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press. “I was a very confused kid… I didn’t know how to fix [the issues in my head], and the only way I knew to feel acceptance was doing some of the stupid stuff I was doing with the people I was doing it with,” McWhorter stated, adding a cautionary note for the youth about making life-altering decisions.
McWhorter’s final appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court highlighted his age at the time of the crime and argued against Alabama’s failure to give the required 30-day execution notice. His attorneys pointed to a 2005 Supreme Court ruling barring execution for crimes committed by individuals under 18. They contended that under Alabama law, which does not consider individuals full adults until 19, executing McWhorter would be unconstitutional.
“There is emerging research showing that there is nothing magic about turning 18 when it comes to brain science – 18 year olds continue to develop and mature,” McWhorter’s lawyers stated.
However, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office insisted on the execution, emphasizing the premeditated nature of the crime and McWhorter’s actions post-murder, including stealing from the victim.
Ahead of his scheduled execution, McWhorter voiced concerns about his family and friends. He also shared a message for youth facing difficult times: “Anything that comes across them that just doesn’t sit well at first, take a few seconds to think that through… Because one bad choice, one stupid mistake, one dumb decision can alter your life — and those that you care about — forever.”
Another Execution in Texas
Coinciding with McWhorter’s execution, Texas is also set to execute David Renteria, 53, convicted for the 2001 murder of a 5-year-old girl in El Paso.
The cases in Alabama and Texas underscore the ongoing national debate on the death penalty and legal age considerations in the United States’ justice system.