Alabama to Execute Man for 1993 Murder During Home Robbery

This image provided by the Alabama Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Casey McWhorter, who was sentenced for the 1993 shooting death of Edward Lee Williams during a robbery. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey set a Nov. 16, 2023, execution date for McWhorter. (Alabama Department of Corrections via AP) The Associated Press

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.

Prisoner reflecting on life. (iStock/timharmon)

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.

FILE – This photo shows the gurney in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla., on Oct. 9, 2014. A scheduled execution in Alabama that was called off Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, after prison officials could not find a suitable vein to inject the lethal drugs into is the latest in a long history of problems with lethal injections since Texas became the first state to use the execution method in 1982, including delays in finding usable veins. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

McWhorter’s Message

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.