Former Alabama Death Row Prisoner Receives Life Sentence


Brandon Washington was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole last week following a new sentencing hearing that was ordered by the Alabama Supreme Court.

In April 2011, EJI won a ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court vacating Brandon Washington’s death sentence because the State introduced highly improper victim impact evidence at the penalty phase of his trial.

Brandon Washington, then an 18-year-old Miles College freshman with no criminal history, was convicted and sentenced to death in the 2005 shooting of a Radio Shack employee in Jefferson County, Alabama, even though no physical evidence linked him to the crime. At the penalty phase, Mr. Washington presented evidence that his drug-addicted mother had abandoned him to spend his teenage years in foster care, but he nonetheless succeeded in graduating high school and enrolled at Miles College.

At the penalty phase, the prosecutor obtained a death sentence after presenting illegal evidence to the jury, which EJI challenged on appeal. The Alabama Supreme Court agreed and ordered a new penalty phase trial.

At sentencing in Jefferson County last week, the victim’s mother told Judge Teresa Pulliam that while she had asked for the death penalty at trial, she has since had time to reflect and no longer believes the death penalty is necessary. She asked the court to impose life imprisonment without parole instead of the death penalty.

Judge Pulliam also heard evidence about how Mr. Washington had used his time on death row to reflect and mature.

Mr. Washington was then re-sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.