ATMORE, Ala. (AP/WRBL) – An Alabama inmate has been executed for a 1996 murder after divided Supreme Court clears the way.

The Court has cleared the way for the state to execute Matthew Reeves, who contended an intellectual disability combined with the state’s inattention cost him a chance to avoid lethal injection and choose a new method.

A divided court on Thursday evening upheld a state appeal, which had asked the justices to lift a lower court order that blocked prison workers from executing Reeves.

He was convicted of killing a driver, Willie Johnson, who gave him a ride in 1996.

Reeves claimed the state failed to help him understand a form that would have let him choose a new execution method involving nitrogen.

In the days leading up to the execution, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey was flooded with tweets from European governments, expressing their concerns over the pending execution of Reeves.


Following the execution, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall released the following statement:

In November 1996, Matthew Reeves committed an act of cold-blooded evil, brutally murdering a good Samaritan who stopped to offer Reeves and his friends assistance after their vehicle broke down and stranded them on the side of the road. In return for Willie Johnson’s act of kindness—offering Reeves and his friends a ride and a tow to their destination—Reeves shot Johnson in the neck with a shotgun, stole $360 from Johnson’s body, and mocked Johnson’s last moments.

There can be no doubt that a jury of his peers correctly convicted Reeves of capital murder, for which he was sentenced to death. While I regret that it has taken 24 years for Reeves to finally receive his just punishment, tonight justice has finally been served.

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

Attorney General Marshall cleared the execution to commence at 9:05 p.m.

Matthew Reeves’ time of death was 9:24 p.m.


Alabama Governor Kay Ivey also released a statement:

“The day before Thanksgiving 1996, Willie Johnson, Jr., a good Samaritan lending a helping hand, was brutally murdered by Matthew Reeves. The evidence in this case is clear, Mr. Reeves’ sentence is fair, and tonight, justice was rightfully served. Over 20 years after the cold-blooded murder, Mr. Reeves remains guilty, and his lack of remorse is unchanged. I pray that the Johnson family can finally receive closure.”

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