March 5, 2020
Gov. Kay Ivey:
We, the members of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, are adding our voices to the thousands urging you to stop the execution of Nathaniel Woods, scheduled for tonight.
You know the facts of this tragedy: three police officers shot and killed on June 17, 2004. But they were shot and killed by another man, Kerry Spencer, not Nathaniel Woods.
Spencer, who remains on death row, has admitted to killing Carlos Owen, Harley Chisholm III, and Charles Bennett. He wrote a letter this week saying that Nathaniel is “100% innocent” and that he knows this because he shot and killed the three officers.
You know that Nathaniel had a court-appointed lawyer who had never handled a capital case. You know that this lawyer conducted an inadequate investigation. And you know that this lawyer didn’t advise him properly about a plea deal that was offered.
Nathaniel rejected a plea deal of 20 to 25 years because his attorney told him incorrectly that he couldn’t be executed since there was no evidence of his responsibility for the shooting. And two jurors even voted against the death penalty.
The jury foreperson, who originally supported the death penalty in this case, supports halting Nathaniel’s execution.
A family member of one of the victims has reached out to Nathaniel’s lawyer, unsolicited, to say they want Nathaniel’s life to be spared. The person said Nathaniel was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
He was young and hanging out with the wrong crowd, the person said but not culpable in the murders.
If the facts of this case do not move you to save Nathaniel’s life, then consider your words, the words you uttered when signing the human protection act last year: “Alabamians have a deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”
Nathaniel’s father, Nathaniel Woods Sr., and his sister, Pamela Woods, believe the life of their son and brother is precious. His mother, who died in 2017, surely believed it as she gave birth to him.
And Nathaniel is a father himself; his children are ages 22, 20 and 18. Of course, they want their father to live, even if they have to visit him at the prison.
We at the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival urge you to reflect on your own words and consider that Nathaniel’s life is precious, that his life is a sacred gift from God. And this is
especially true when a state wants to execute a man who didn’t commit the heinous crime for which he’s sentenced to die.
Gov. Ivey, we are asking those who support this call to save the life of a man innocent of murder to call your office at 334-242-7100. We pray for you to listen to these callers. And we pray for you to save the life of Nathaniel.
Yours in the call for truth and justice,
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis,
Co-Chairs of Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
Rev. Carolyn Foster, Rev. Tonny Algood, and Ms. Wanda Bryant,
Tri-Chairs of Alabama Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival