Despite desperate pleas from his family, Joe Nathan James Jr. was to be executed at 6 p.m. on July 28. Instead, the lethal injection was delayed until 9:04 p.m. He was not pronounced dead until 9:27 p.m. According to Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm “nothing out of the ordinary” caused the delay and he refutes reporters’ claims that James had already been sedated prior to the start of the execution process.
Due to concerns and suspicions surrounding the 50-year-old’s death, an independent autopsy was conducted and the findings allege that “something terrible had been done to James while he was strapped to a gurney behind closed doors.” His hands and wrists had also reportedly “been burst by needles, in every place one can bend or flex.” After images from the findings were shared with a pathologist by a reporter at The Atlantic, it was revealed that “the IV team was unqualified for the task in a most dramatic way.”
Pathologist Mark Edgar also shared that one wound was “more consistent with trauma.” He further explained that the injury “incurred during a struggle.” The autopsy, which was funded by human rights nonprofit Reprieve, says the findings of the case were far more alarming than their initial fears. Furthermore, results suggest that the “execution began hours before media witnesses were allowed into the execution chamber.”
“Alabama’s execution of Joe Nathan James Jr. took longer than any lethal injection in recorded U.S. history, and may even be the longest execution ever using any method,” said the group. “Subjecting someone to three hours of pain and suffering is the definition of cruel and unusual punishment.”
This is not the first time the corrections facility has been accused of wrongful treatment toward prisoners.