(Montgomery)—Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall issued the following statement this morning after the execution of James Edward Barber at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama:
“Justice has been served. 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,” said Attorney General Marshall.
He continued, “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.”
Attorney General Marshall cleared the execution to commence at 1:34 a.m.
James Barber’s time of death was 1:56 a.m.
Summary of the Facts of the Case
On Sunday, May 20, 2001, James Barber brutally murdered Dorothy Epps at her home in Harvest, Alabama, taking her life so that he could steal her purse.
Dorothy Epps was home alone the night of her murder. Mrs. Epps knew and had a friendly relationship with James Barber, who in the past had dated her daughter and had been hired to do repair work on her house. When Barber knocked on Mrs. Epps’s door, she probably invited him inside, having no reason to suspect his malevolent intent.
After entering her home, Barber viciously and mercilessly attacked Mrs. Epps, a 75-year-old woman who weighed 100 pounds, striking her in the face and then beating her to death with his fists and a claw hammer.
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 murdering Mrs. Epps, Barber grabbed her purse and ran from the scene, 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. He admitted that “the crime was senseless and stupid” and that he deserved “to be charged and put to death” for committing it.
At trial, where overwhelming evidence of his guilt was presented—including his own videorecorded confession—Barber was convicted of capital murder by a jury of his peers and sentenced to death.