The Next to Die
Alabama set to execute man convicted of killing Fayette County preacher
Christopher Lee Price is scheduled to be executed on April 11. Price was convicted of stabbing a Fayette County preacher to death in 1991.
Alabama plans to execute prisoner Christopher Lee Price on Thursday in its second execution of 2019.
Price is seeking a last-minute stay after years fighting Alabama’s lethal injection protocol in state courts. In an appeal filed this week, Price’s attorneys argued the state’s execution method could cause the prisoner severe pain, violating the Eighth Amendment.
The appeal also argues the state in 2018 established an “arbitrary” 30-day election period in which inmates could choose to die by a different method.
Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation into law last year allowing condemned inmates to choose death by nitrogen gas. But the method of execution, which proponents in Alabama argued was a more humane way to kill human beings, is effectively a hypothetical method at this time. Alabama is now one of three states to legally allow death by nitrogen, but zero executions in the country have used the method and it’s unclear how it could be implemented. Methods ranging from a gas chamber to a gas mask have been floated.
Last year, state officials said any Alabama prisoner sentenced to death before June 1, 2018, would have a 30-day period to choose nitrogen hypoxia over lethal injection.
Price’s motion alleges the state has made “secret” agreements with other death row inmates on executions methods. In court filings, Alabama prosecutors deny the allegation and say Price, along with every other death row inmate at Holman prison, were given forms to choose nitrogen hypoxia in June 2018.
Price’s attorney has not yet returned request for comment.
Price was convicted of the brutal slaying of Bill Lynn, a Fayette County preacher, during the course of a 1991 home robbery. Price was 19 at the time of the murder.
Lynn and his wife, Bessie, were at their Bazemore home three days before Christmas when the house’s power went out. When Bill Lynn went outside to check the powerbox, he was attacked, according to court documents. Bessie Lynn later testified that two assailants then beat her before stealing jewelry and money from their home.
Bill Lynn, who prosecutors say was cut or stabbed 38 times with a sword and dagger, died at a hospital approximately 45 minutes after the attack.
A Fayette County jury in 1993 sentenced Price to death by a vote of 10-2. Price later tried to contest his sentence, alleging his original trial attorney was unprepared and failed to offer evidence that the then-teenager was psychologically traumatized following years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of his mother’s boyfriends. But the Supreme Court declined to review his case in 2013, according to an Atlantic report.
Price’s execution is the second set by the state this year. Alabama in February executed Domineque Ray after an 11th-hour U.S. Supreme Court ruling vacated a stay of execution pending a religious rights claim. The court ruled by a narrow majority Ray had waited too late to bring the issue to light.
Ray, a Muslim, had argued Alabama’s practice of including a Christian prison chaplain in the execution chamber was in violation of the First Amendment. Ray sought to have his imam present in the death chamber at the time of his death, but the state said it would only allow trained prison employees in the chamber.
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