The State of Alabama executed Torrey McNabb tonight, even though the state and federal courts denied him a chance to present evidence in support of his claims that his capital trial was unfair. Earlier today the Supreme Court overruled a lower court’s order staying Mr. McNabb’s execution.
Mr. McNabb was convicted in 1999 of capital murder and sentenced to death in the shooting of a Montgomery police officer after a highly publicized trial. His appointed trial counsel, limited by statute to $1000 for out-of-court work on the case, failed to properly investigate his case and did not provide an adequate defense at trial.
After his conviction and death sentence were affirmed on appeal, Mr. McNabb filed a petition challenging his lawyer’s performance and other issues related to the prejudicial publicity that surrounded his trial. The trial judge dismissed Mr. McNabb’s petition without allowing him the opportunity to present evidence in support of his claims, signing an order that had been written by the State’s lawyer. When Mr. McNabb appealed, the federal court dismissed his petition without giving his lawyers a chance to file a brief.
Mr. McNabb had requested a stay of execution in order to address questions about the constitutionality of Alabama’s method of execution. A federal court stayed Jeffery Borden’s October 5 execution to hear evidence that Alabama’s three-drug protocol poses a risk of a torturous execution in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
A federal district court stayed Mr. McNabb’s execution on Monday, but the State appealed that court order. The Eleventh Circuit upheld the stay yesterday, but the State appealed that ruling and the United States Supreme Court ruled today that Mr. McNabb’s execution could proceed.