Attorney General Thurbert Baker announced that late Friday afternoon Judge Beverly Martin, a federal district judge in the Northern District of Georgia, had rejected Jack Alderman’s latest attempt to avoid execution for the 1974 murder for hire of his wife.
Alderman had challenged the procedures used by the state of Georgia in carrying out executions, arguing that the protocols in Georgia for carrying out lethal injections amounted to cruel and unusual punishment which should be prohibited under the federal Constitution’s 8th Amendment.
The federal court rejected that argument, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s April 16 decision in Baze v. Rees, a case out of Kentucky that challenged Kentucky’s lethal injection protocols. Seven of the nine Supreme Court justices rejected Baze’s contention that the lethal injection protocol in Kentucky amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.
Here, the federal court in Alderman’s case found that Georgia’s protocols represented no more “substantial risk” than did Kentucky’s protocols, and went further in finding that the officials responsible for carrying out executions in Georgia are “at least as qualified, if not more qualified, than the execution team” in Kentucky. The federal court found that alternatively, the statute of limitations would bar Alderman’s claims even if he had not lost the case on the merits.
Alderman was convicted for killing his wife Barbara Jean, who has family in Effingham County, to avoid a divorce settlement and to receive life insurance proceeds. Prosecutors charged that Alderman and his hired killer — John Arthur Brown — alternatively beat, suffocated, strangled and then drowned the victim.
Brown testified against Alderman at the trial. Alderman and Brown were each found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.
Brown’s sentence was changed to life and he was released in 1987. He died in 2000.
Alderman was originally scheduled to be executed on Oct. 19, 2007, but the Georgia Supreme Court granted a last minute stay of execution citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear arguments in the case involving Kentucky’s execution protocols, Baze v. Rees. Upon receiving the order from the U.S. Supreme Court rejecting the cruel and unusual punishment claims made in Baze, Baker moved that same day, April 16, for the Georgia Supreme Court to dissolve its stay so that a new execution date could be set for Alderman.
As of Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court has not ruled on the state’s motion to remove the stay of execution.
Alderman originally had his appeal on the legality of death by lethal injection denied by the Georgia Supreme Court on Oct. 16.