SCOTUS advances death penalty in Alabama’s first prosecution for murder of unborn child
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday made the decision to not review several Alabama death penalty cases, including two for the murders of police officers and another that was the state’s first prosecution for murder of an unborn child.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall welcomed SCOTUS denying certiorari in the capital cases of Nathaniel Woods, Mario Woodward, Jessie Phillips, Gregory Hunt, Demetrius Frazier and Cedric Floyd.
In a Wednesday statement, Marshall said, “In each of these cases, a life or lives were tragically and viciously taken and a just sentence of death for the killer was handed down.”
“Police officers were carrying out their duties to protect citizens, as they do every day, and they paid the ultimate price,” he outlined. “A mother and her unborn child, and three more women, were brutally killed. The U.S. Supreme Court this week acted in its role as a last resort of justice, rightfully letting stand the convictions and sentences for these vile crimes.”
Marshall does not just have ties to these cases as attorney general defending the sentences.
On February 27, 2009, Jessie Phillips held his pregnant wife, Erica, in a headlock and pointed a gun to her head. She broke away and ran, but Phillips shot her in the head, killing her.
The crime occurred in Guntersville and was prosecuted by Marshall when he was district attorney of Marshall County.
This case was the first prosecution under Alabama’s state law for murder of an unborn baby. In 2012, Phillips was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.
To be clear, this case does not relate to the recently enacted HB 314 — Alabama’s abortion ban law. That law is not currently in effect.
As far as the two cases involving police officers, Nathaniel Woods in 2005 was convicted of capital murder for fatally shooting Birmingham Police Department officers Carlos Owen, Harley A. Chisolm and Charles R. Bennett and the attempted murder of officer Michael Collins.
Mario Woodward in 2008 was convicted of capital murder for the fatal shooting of Montgomery Police Department Officer Keith Houts.
The U.S. Supreme Court also declined to review the cases of three additional Alabama death row inmates: Hunt, Frazier and Floyd.
Per the attorney general’s office, Hunt brutally murdered Karen Lane in Walker County in 1988. Frazier was found guilty by a Jefferson County jury of the 1991 burglary, rape and murder of Pauline Brown. In 2009, Cedric Floyd murdered his former girlfriend, Tina Jones, during a burglary of her house.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn