A man convicted of the sword-and-dagger stabbing of a pastor brutally murdered while wrapping Christmas gifts for his grandchildren during a 1991 robbery is set to be executed Thursday evening.
Christopher Lee Price, 46, will become the second person executed in Alabama this year, barring a last-minute stay for the killing of pastor Bill Lynn.
Price – who was 19 at the time of the murder – is scheduled to receive a chemical injection at 6pm after the 57-year-old victim was slain three days before Christmas in a 1991 robbery while preparing gifts at his Bazemore home.
Prosecutors said Lynn was at his home, getting toys ready for his grandchildren, when the power was cut. Lynn went outside to check the fuse box when he was killed, according to court filings.
Lynn’s wife, Bessie Lynn, testified she was in an upstairs bedroom watching television when she heard a noise.
She said she looked out a window and saw a person dressed in black in a karate stance, holding a sword above her husband’s head.
Lynn, a minister at Natural Springs Church of Christ, had returned home with his wife from a church service before the slaying.
When Bessie Lynn went outside to help her husband she said the two men ordered her back in the house. She was struck three or four times with a nightstick, The Tuscaloosa News reports.
They then demanded money and any jewelry and weapons they had. Bessie survived but was left wounds to her head, hands and chest.
After being arrested, Price initially told police it was an accomplice that killed Bill Lynn. An autopsy showed that Lynn had been cut or stabbed more than 30 times.
After Lynn’s conviction in the killing in 1993, a jury recommended a death sentence by a vote of 10-2. A second man, Kevin Coleman, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
In last-minute legal filings, attorneys for Price have sought to stay execution plans over Price’s request to be put to death by nitrogen hypoxia but the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday declined to halt Thursday’s execution plan at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore.
Price’s attorneys argued that the state was planning to execute him with a drug combination that has been linked to problematic executions while agreeing to execute other inmates by use of nitrogen hypoxia.
Although Alabama last year authorized nitrogen as an execution method, it has not developed a procedure for using it or carried out any death penalty using the gas.
The appellate judges said Price did not have an equal protection claim because all death row inmates had an opportunity to select nitrogen as their preferred execution method after the law was approved, but that Price missed the deadline for making a selection.
According to the state, some 48 of the more than 170 inmates on death row have elected to be put to death by nitrogen hypoxia.
As states have had trouble obtaining lethal injection drugs, Alabama in 2018 authorized nitrogen hypoxia as an alternative for carry out death sentences.
Proponents of the change argued nitrogen would be readily available and hypoxia would be a painless way to die.
If carried out, the execution would be Alabama’s second this year. In February, Alabama executed inmate Dominique Ray for the 1995 murder of a 15-year-old girl.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Lauren Fruen; The Associated Press