ALABAMA: Willie B. Smith, III has been executed for 1991 capital murder


ALABAMA (WRBL) – According to a news release from Governor Kay Ivey, Willie B. Smith was executed Oct. 21, 2021, 9:47 p.m. at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama for the 1991 murder of 22-year-old Sharma Ruth Johnson.

Governor Ivey released the following statement:

“Sharma Ruth Johnson was abducted at gunpoint, threatened while in the trunk of the car, terrorized, assaulted, and ultimately, Willie B. Smith, III brutally killed her. In that final moment of this young lady’s short life, Mr. Smith, after learning Ms. Johnson was related to a law enforcement officer, made the choice to put a shotgun to her head, stealing this woman’s future.

“Even after these heinous crimes were committed, Mr. Smith made the choice to burn the vehicle to hide his fingerprints. He knew full well he was doing wrong. This was an absolutely horrendous act against Ms. Johnson. It is also an attack on our men and women in blue.

“In dealing with this unimaginable and tragic loss, her loved ones have endured years of Mr. Smith attempting to avoid due punishment and then a delayed execution earlier this year. Mr. Smith had more time on death row than Ms. Johnson had in this life.

“The evidence in this case was overwhelming, and justice has been rightfully served. The carrying out of Mr. Smith’s sentence sends the message that the state of Alabama will not tolerate these murderous acts. I pray that the loved ones of Ms. Johnson can be closer to finding peace.” 

Governor Kay Ivey

Attorney General Steve Marshall also issued a statement tonight after the execution of Willie B. Smith III.

Justice has been served. Tonight, Willie Smith was put to death for the heinous crime he committed nearly three decades ago: the abduction and execution-style murder of an innocent young woman, Sharma Johnson.

When a capital murderer is due to receive his just punishment, one always hears accusations of “cruel and unusual punishment,” with that term rarely used in a way that accords with its constitutional meaning—and absolutely never used in reference to the victim’s loved ones.

The family of Sharma Johnson has had to wait 29 years, 11 months, and 25 days to see the sentence of Sharma’s murderer be carried out. Finally, the cruel and unusual punishment that has been inflicted upon them—a decadeslong denial of justice—has come to an end.

I ask the people of Alabama to join me in praying for Sharma’s family and friends, that they might now be able to find peace and closure.

Attorney General Steve Marshall

About the Case

Oct. 27, 1991, Willie Smith saw a car pull into a Birmingham ATM. He was armed with a sawed-off shotgun, when he saw 22-year-old Sharma Johnson.

Smith told accomplice Angelicia Willis to approach Johnson’s car and ask questions as a distraction for him to attack her in the car.

Smith forced the shotgun into the vehicle, driving Johnson out of the car and into her trunk.

From the trunk of her vehicle, she told Smith her debit card information and amount of money in the account. He withdrew $80, emptying Johnson’s account.

Smith proceeded to drive around Birmingham with Johnson in the trunk, making stops at gas stations and a shopping center to pick up his brother, Lorenzo.

When Lorenzi asked who the car belonged to he said, “some white b——,” continuing to explain how she had been kidnapped and was still in the trunk.

Lorenzo continued to taunt and mock Johnson, shouting sexual threats to her while she begged for help.

Smith ultimately killed Johnson in a cemetery while she begged for Smith not to kill her.

Smith believed she would, ‘call the police,’ and that was reason enough for him to kill her.

Smith later told authorities, “I said, ‘You’re a motherf——ing liar.’ Boom! Then I shot her in the head.”

Johnson’s remains was found in her trunk where Smith killed her and set the scene on fire.

Smith was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder for execution-style slaying shortly after boasting about the murder of Johnson to an acquaintance wearing a police wire.

Willie Smith was convicted of capital murder by a jury of his peers and sentenced to death by electrocution.

He was successful in evading the electric chair, but not his just punishment. His time of death was 9:47 p.m.

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