The Alabama Supreme Court has ordered the executions of two Alabama men. Tommy Whisenhant is scheduled to be executed on May 27, 2010, and John Parker’s execution date has been set for June 10, 2010.
John Parker faces execution despite the fact that the jury that reviewed the evidence concluded that he should not be sentenced to death but instead should serve life imprisonment without parole. The judge in his case overrode the jury’s life verdict and sentenced Mr. Parker to death.
Alabama is the only state in the country that permits judges, without limitation, to override a jury verdict of life imprisonment without parole and impose a death sentence. Nearly 23% of Alabama’s death row prisoners received life verdicts that were overridden by trial judges.
Tommy Whisenhant’s attorneys have maintained that Mr. Whisenhant is mentally ill. The State of Alabama now plans to execute him despite the argument that executing mentally ill persons is unconstitutional.