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ACTION 8 UPDATE: Jamie Mills executed for the 2004 murder of an elderly couple

Death Penalty Alabama

This undated photo released by the Alabama Dept. of Corrections, shows Jamie Mills. The Alabama Supreme Court on March 20, 2024, authorized Alabama’s governor to set an execution date for death row inmate Jamie Mills. Mills was convicted of killing Floyd and Vera Hill during a 2004 robbery in Marion County. (Alabama Department of Corrections via AP)

The state of Alabama has executed a convicted murderer by lethal injection for the 2004 murder of an elderly couple in Marion County.

Jamie Ray Mills, 50, was pronounced dead after a three-drug injection Thursday at 6:26 p.m. at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Escambia County, authorities said.

Mills was convicted of capital murder in the killings of Floyd Hill, 87, and his wife Vera, 72. Prosecutors said they were attacked with a hammer, machete and tire tools at their home about 80 miles northwest of Birmingham in the town of Guin. .

“Tonight, twenty years after he committed these murders, Jamie Mills paid the price for his heinous crimes. I pray for the victims and their loved ones as they continue to grieve,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.

As the execution began, Mills gave a thumbs-up to family members watching from a witness room, later saying in their direction, “I love you.”

“I love my family. I love my brother and sister. I couldn’t ask for more,” Mills said in his closing statement as he looked toward his brother and sister. He also thanked his attorney, Charlotte Morrison of the Equal Justice Initiative. ‘Charlotte, you fought hard for me. I love you all.’

With the drugs flowing, Mills appeared to quickly lose consciousness as a spiritual advisor prayed at the foot of the execution chamber gurney.

Hours earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene without comment. Attorneys for Mills, who maintained his innocence at his 2007 trial, had argued that newly obtained evidence showed the prosecutor had lied about having reached a plea bargain with Mills’ wife to spare her from facing the death penalty against her demands if she testified against her husband. They also argued that Alabama has a history of problematic executions.

But Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office asked judges to let the execution go forward, saying there was a lot of incriminating evidence against him, the state said.

Floyd Hill was the primary caregiver for his wife, who was diabetic and in poor health. He kept her medications in a tackle box in the couple’s kitchen. The Hills regularly held yard sales to supplement their income. When the couple’s granddaughter couldn’t reach them, officers arrived to find them lying in pools of blood in the backyard shed, where they were storing items for yard sales.

Floyd Hill died of blunt and sharp wounds to the head and neck and Vera Hill died about 12 weeks later of complications from head trauma, according to court records.

At the time, Mills had recently quit his job as an auto mechanic at a gas station, where his boss described him as a “hard worker.” According to court documents, he was more than $10,000 behind on child support for his two sons, was angry about his parents’ poor health and had relapsed into drug use.

JoAnn Mills became the key witness against her husband. She testified that after staying up all night smoking methamphetamine, her husband took her to the victims’ home, where she testified that she saw her husband repeatedly punch the couple in the backyard shed, so according to court documents.

The jury convicted Jamie Mills of murder in 2007 and voted 11-1 in favor of the judge’s death sentence. JoAnn Mills had also been charged with murder, but after testifying against her husband, she pleaded to a reduced murder charge and was given a life sentence with the possibility of parole. She remains locked up.

The latest appeals to the Supreme Court focused on arguments that the prosecutor failed to disclose a deal with JoAnn Mills and on challenges to the state’s lethal injection protocol. JoAnn Mill’s trial attorney wrote in a February affidavit that he met with the prosecutor before the 2007 trial, who agreed to let her plead guilty to a lesser charge if she would testify. On the stand, JoAnn Mills said she was just hoping to get “some forgiveness from God” by testifying.

The Equal Justice Initiative said in a statement after the execution that prosecutors “lied, deceived, and misrepresented the reliability of the evidence against Jamie Mills for seventeen years.”

“There will come a day when governments recognize the perverse injustice of this trial and the wrongfulness of this punishment. It will be a day too late for Jamie Mills, making his death tragically regrettable and woefully unjust,” it said.

(Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

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