A lawyer for an Alabama inmate convicted in the 1997 deaths of four people has asked the governor to halt his lethal injection this week, arguing it should weigh the fact that he was 19 at the time of the crimes.
Michael Brandon Samra, 42, is on death row at the Holman Correctional Facility in Escambia County. He is scheduled to be executed on Thursday night.
His execution date was set on April 11th, by the Alabama Supreme Court.
Samra was convicted of capital murder in 1998 and sentenced to death for helping his friend Mark Duke, kill his own father Randy Duke, his fiancée Dedra Mims Hunt, and her two daughters, 6-year-old Chelisa Nicole Hunt and 7-year-old Chelsea Marie Hunt.
According to court records, the slayings happened after Duke became angry when his father wouldn’t let him use his truck.
Randy Duke and Dedra Hunt were shot to death, court records state, while the girl’s throats were slashed.
Duke was 16 and Samra was 19 at the time of their of the crimes.
Duke’s death sentence was converted to life without parole in 2005 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled prisoners couldn’t be put to death for crimes that happened while they were younger than 18.
Samra’s attorney, Steven R. Sears, sent a letter to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey asking for a temporary reprieve. He argued there is growing concern about the appropriateness of the death penalty for those under 21 because of brain development and issues of maturity.
A Kentucky judge in 2017 ruled the death penalty is unconstitutional for defendants younger than 21. Sears asked for a reprieve until the Kentucky Supreme Court decides the appeal.
The Alabama attorney general’s office is opposing the request.