Alabama executes Michael Brandon Samra in state’s second lethal injection of 2019

Alabama executes Michael Brandon Samra in state’s second lethal injection of 2019

May 17, 2019

Samra was convicted of helping friend Mark Duke kill Duke's father, the father's girlfriend Dedra Mims Hunt, and her two daughters, 6-year-old Chelisa Hunt and 7-year-old Chelsea Hunt in Alabama's Shelby County. (Photo: AP)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama on Thursday executed Michael Brandon Samra in its second completed execution of 2019. 

Samra was convicted of capital murder in the 1997 quadruple slaying of a Shelby County family.

Samra’s execution was slated for 6 p.m. CDT on Thursday. The execution began more than an hour late at 7:09. A physician pronounced Samra dead at 7:33 p.m. 

When asked if he had any final words, Samra prayed. 

“I would like to thank Jesus for everything he’s done for me,” he said. “I want to thank Jesus for shedding his bloods for my sins. Thank you for your grace, Jesus. Amen.”

Court documents outlining the case allege Samra, who was 19 at the time, was recruited into the plot by a 16-year-old friend, Mark Duke. Duke reportedly was enraged that his father, Randy Duke, wouldn’t let him use his pickup truck. 

Court documents state an armed Samra and Mark Duke approached Randy at his home, where Randy Duke’s girlfriend, Dedra Mims Hunt, and her young daughters, Chelisa and Chelsea, were also staying. 

Mark Duke first shot his father before pursuing Hunt and the girls through the house, killing the mother and Chelisa. Samra was convicted of killing Chelsea by cutting her throat. 

Seven Hunt and Mims family members witnessed Samra’s execution. After the execution, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn read a prepared statement from the two families. 

“This has been a painful journey. Today justice was carried out,” the statement said, before thanking law enforcement and loved ones. “We ask that you keep all families involved in your prayers.” 

Samra appeared alert for several minutes before his eyes closed. At 7:15 p.m., his chest heaved three times in quick succession. After, his breathing appeared significantly labored, with his head slightly jerking with each breath. 

A consciousness test was conducted at 7:17. Two minutes later, Samra stretched and drew his fingers outward, attempted to raise his right hand against his wrist restraints before curling his fingers inward. He then stilled. 

The curtain was closed at 7:25 p.m.

When asked about the hour-plus delay in start time, Dunn said he was not aware of any  issues with the execution preparation.

Mark Duke was originally sentenced to death along with Samra, but his sentence was reversed when the Supreme Court barred the death penalty for people under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes. 

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused a stay request from Samra. Attorneys had argued his age at the time of the slayings should prohibit him from being put to death.

Samra declined breakfast and did not request a final meal or any other final accommodations, prison officials said. 

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