Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Willie Smith, Alabama

Willie Smith, Alabama

Updated: Thursday, October 21, 2021

Willie Smith

Alabama executed Willie B. Smith, III, on Thursday, October 21, 2021. The execution was delayed for several hours due to an appeal before the Supreme Court of the United States.  Willie was pronounced dead at 9:47 pm local time, inside the execution chamber at the Holeman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama. He was 52 years of age and convicted of robbing, kidnapping, and murdering 22-year-old Sharma Ruth Johnson in October 1991.  Willie spent the last 29 years of his life on death row in Alabama.

Willie’s father was allegedly abusive during his childhood and Willie did not have any economic advantages.  Willie did not excel in school.  He also did not have a history of criminal activity.  

In October 1991, 17-year-old Angelica Willis was living with Willie Smith.  The two left the apartment around midnight on October 26, 1991, looking for Smith’s brother.  As they were walking, Willis and Smith saw Sharma Ruth Johnson sitting in a car at an automatic teller machine (ATM).

Smith told Willis to go up to the woman ask for directions to a nearby restaurant.  While Willis and Sharma talked, Smith approached with a gun drawn.  Smith stuck the gun in the window and demanded Sharma get out of the vehicle.  Sharma complied and was placed in the trunk of her vehicle.  

Smith and Willis drove around for a while before returning to the bank. They took Sharma’s bank card and forced her to reveal her PIN. Smith withdrew approximately $80.00 from the machine, which recorded the time of the transaction.  The transaction was also photographed by the machine.

Smith continued driving with Sharma in the trunk, stopping at a few stores and eventually locating his brother.  Upon learning of the woman in the trunk, Smith’s brother began taunting her and making sexual remarks.  Smith decided to kill Sharma, fearing she would call the police.  Willis claimed she opposed killing Sharma, however, Smith opened the trunk and shot Sharma with a shotgun.  Smith, his brother, and Willis drove north, eventually abandoning the car.  The following day Smith tells Willis he returned to the vehicle and burned it.

Smith told a few people about the murder, including a police informant, who agreed to wear a body mic to talk with Smith.  During the conversation, Smith made several incriminating statements, including naming the victim and describing the details of the murder, including how he killed her.

Angelica Willis was convicted for her part in the murder of Sharma and agreed to a plea deal resulting in a 25-year sentence.  Willie Smith was convicted and sentenced to death.

Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Sharma Johnson.  Pray for strength for the family of Willie.


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