Martin Luther King III urges against executing Alabama man in police officers' 2004 killings

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King III urged mercy Thursday for an Alabama man convicted in connection with the murder of four Birmingham police officers in 2004 -- hours before the inmate's scheduled execution.

King, the son of the late American civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., told "Bill Hemmer Reports" that Nathaniel Woods was victimized by a "bungled" trial and "indigent" counsel, adding that Republican Gov. Kay Ivey should spare Woods' life by issuing a stay of execution.

"The person that pulled the trigger and confessed over and over again and he was the triggerman and Nathaniel was not involved," King told host Bill Hemmer, referring to Kerry Spencer who was convicted of capital murder in the killings along with Woods and is also sentenced to die.

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King also called on all legal remedies to be utilized before Woods' scheduled 6 p.m. CT execution Thursday.

"When I heard about the prospect and an innocent man would be executed, I became concerned. Whenever there's any inkling of a chance that somebody may be innocent, all of the facts will be exhausted," said King, who told Hemmer he heard of Woods' case while in Selma for the "Bloody Sunday" anniversary march last weekend.

Birmingham police officers Carlos Owen, Harley A. Chisolm III and Charles R. Bennett were killed while trying to serve a misdemeanor domestic assault warrant on Woods at a suspected drug house. Prosecutors say Woods set an ambush for the officers by telling them he was surrendering shortly before Spencer opened fire with a high-powered rifle. A jury voted 10-2 for Woods to receive the death penalty.

Hemmer challenged King as to how he knew Woods was innocent, adding there are many "ifs" in regard to critiques of the case.

"All we can look at is the facts. If a person is innocent, they shouldn't be killed in this country," the civil rights scion responded.

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"People have been killed and hung for doing nothing," King added. "May this confession [by Spencer], if that is the prospect, at least go through the facts and the information and give the system an opportunity to work, if it did not work. Unfortunately, the system does not work for African-Americans and poor people over and over again."

King added that there is no reason to assassinate police officers and that he was not justifying or excusing the officers' deaths.

Following the interview, Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano told Hemmer that the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on a case challenging whether non-unanimous jury votes can still result in a convict being sentenced to death.

Napolitano said Ivey should issue a stay of execution in Woods' case until the court rules one way or the other on that matter.