James Barber, Alabama
Updated: Friday, July 21, 2023
Alabama has carried out the execution of James Barber on Thursday, July 20, 2023. James was pronounced dead at 1:56 am local time, inside the execution chamber at the Holman State Prison in Atmore, Alabama. He was 64 years of age. James was executed for murdering 75-year-old Dorothy Epps in late-May 2002, in Harvest, Alabama. James spent the last 19 years of his life on death row in Alabama.
James did not graduate from high school but later earned his GED. He was a productive member of the workforce. James had a drug and alcohol problem for years. His use ended at least one romantic relationship.
For years, James Barber had helped Dorothy Epps and her husband around the house, doing repair work. The Epps’ owned a farm with an airstrip. Barber was also friendly with one of Dorothy’s daughters. In the days leading up to Dorothy’s murder, her husband had stated he was going out of town and asked various people to help with the mowing and to check in on Dorothy. Dorothy last spoke to someone on the afternoon of May 20, 2001. A different friend later told police that he was unable to contact Dorothy later that day.
On May 20 or May 21, 2001, Barber gained entry into Dorothy’s home. Evidence indicated that he did not force his way, instead, he was likely let in by Dorothy due to their relationship. Barber attacked the elderly and frail Dorothy. Dorothy was likely first struck in the face by Barber’s fist. Barber then used a claw hammer to cause multiple injuries to Dorothy’s head, back, arms, ribs, and elsewhere, which resulted in her death. Evidence showed she attempted to fight back.
The friends who had stopped by the check on Dorothy noticed that Dorothy’s daughter’s car was at the house on the evening of May 20. However, the daughter said that Barber was driving her car that day and she was driving her father’s. Blood was later discovered in her vehicle. Police brought Barber in to question him a few days after the murder. He waived his Miranda rights and denied knowing anything about the murder.
When police informed Barber of the timeframe of Dorothy’s murder, he provided an extremely detailed account of his activities during that time. He later changed his story, confessing to using cocaine and drinking the day of the murder. He admitted to going to her house and killing her, claiming it was unintentional.
Barber is the first execution since Alabama reviewed its execution policy.
Pray for the family of Dorothy Epps. Pray for strength for the family of James Barber.
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