U.S. Supreme Court decisions advance 6 Alabama capital sentences, 2 for murders of police officers

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Attorney Gen. Steve Marshall welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions on Monday not to review several Alabama death penalty cases, including two for the murders of police officers in Birmingham and Montgomery and another that was the State’s first prosecution for murder of an unborn child. The Court denied certiorari in the cases of Nathaniel Woods, Mario Woodward, Jessie Phillips, Gregory Hunt, Demetrius Frazier and Cedric Floyd.

“In each of these cases, a life or lives were tragically and viciously taken and a just sentence of death for the killer was handed down,” said Marshall. “Police officers were carrying out their duties to protect citizens, as they do every day, and they paid the ultimate price. A mother and her unborn child, and three more women, were brutally killed. The U.S. Supreme Court this week acted in its role as a last resort of justice, rightfully letting stand the convictions and sentences for these vile crimes.”

Nathaniel Woods

On June 17, 2004, officers of the Birmingham Police Department were in the process of arresting and taking into custody Nathaniel Woods at an apartment where he dealt drugs with Kerry Spencer. Spencer then opened fire, killing three of the officers and wounding a fourth. Carlos Owen, Harley A. Chisolm, and Charles R. Bennett were murdered in the line of duty; Michael Collins survived. In 2005, Woods was convicted of capital murder and attempted murder, and was sentenced to death. Spencer also was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.

Mario Woodward

Montgomery Police Officer Keith Houts conducted a traffic stop of Mario Woodward on the afternoon of Sept. 28, 2006. Woodward shot Houts as he was walking toward the vehicle, then shot the fallen officer four more times before fleeing. In 2008, Woodward was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.

Jessie Phillips

On Feb. 27, 2009, Jessie Phillips held his pregnant wife, Erica Phillips, in a headlock and pointed a gun to her head. She broke away and ran, but Phillips shot her in the head, killing her. The crime occurred in Guntersville and was prosecuted by Steve Marshall when he was district attorney of Marshall County. This case was the first prosecution under Alabama’s state law for murder of an unborn baby. In 2012, Phillips was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.

Gregory Hunt, Demetrius Frazier and Cedric Floyd

The U.S. Supreme Court also declined to review the cases of three additional Alabama death row inmates: Gregory Hunt, Demetrius Frazier and Cedric Floyd. Hunt brutally murdered Karen Lane in Walker County in 1988. Frazier was found guilty by a Jefferson County jury of the 1991 burglary, rape and murder of Pauline Brown. In 2009, Cedric Floyd murdered his former girlfriend, Tina Jones, during a burglary of her house.

Marshall commended Assistant Attorneys General Lauren Simpson, Richard Anderson, John Selden and Beth Hughes of his Capital Litigation Division for their successful handling of the appeals in these cases.