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‘Justice served’: Barber executed for murder of Dorothy Epps

ATMORE — James Barber was executed this morning for the brutal murder of Dorothy Epps in 2001. His execution was carried out at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore.

“Justice has been served,” said Attorney General Steve Marshall. “This morning, James Barber was put to death for the terrible crime he committed over two decades ago: the especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel murder of Dorothy Epps.

“I ask the people of Alabama to join me in praying for the victim’s family and friends, that they might now be able to find some sense of peace and closure.”

Barber’s execution came after midnight when the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 to reject his request for an appeal. He claiming previous attempts to execute other inmates last year were botched.

After receiving the court’s order, Marshall cleared the execution to commence at 1:34 a.m. Barber’s time of death was 1:56 a.m.

“Tonight, the justice that James Barber managed to avoid for more than two decades has finally been served,” said Gov. Kay Ivey. “In 2001, 75-year-old Dorothy Epps desperately fought for her life as Mr. Barber brutally and gruesomely beat her to death in her own home. The facts are clear: Mr. Barber confessed to his guilt, and the jury has spoken. His litany of appeals to delay justice finally came to an end, and Mr. Barber has answered for his horrendous crime.

“In Alabama, we will always work to enforce the law and uphold justice.”

Barber was convicted by a Madison County jury in 2003 for the brutal murder of Epps in her Harvest home.

Epps knew and had a friendly relationship with Barber, who in the past had dated her daughter and had been hired to do repair work on her house.

When Barber knocked on Epps’s door, she probably invited him inside, having no reason to suspect his malevolent intent, Marshall’s office said in a summary of the facts of the case.

“Barber viciously and mercilessly attacked Mrs. Epps, who weighed 100 pounds, striking her in the face and then beating her to death with his fists and a claw hammer,” the summary said. “Dorothy Epps suffered multiple skull fractures, head lacerations, fractured ribs, injuries to her neck, mouth, and eye, and bleeding over her brain.

“She also suffered multiple defensive wounds, establishing that she was facing Barber at times, was conscious and aware of what was happening, and tried to fend off his blows with her bare hands.”

After the attack, Barber grabbed Epps’ purse and fled, “leaving behind him a home now covered in blood, including on the floors, furniture, walls, and ceiling. He also left bloody footprints on Mrs. Epps’s body — and a bloody handprint on a counter.”

Days later, Barber was arrested and voluntarily confessed to the murder of Dorothy Epps, providing police with an elaborate account of his crimes, according to the summary.

He admitted that “the crime was senseless and stupid” and that he deserved “to be charged and put to death” for committing it.

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