It took 27 years for Alabama to execute death row inmate James B. Hubbard. White-haired and withered, Hubbard, 74, was silent, pale and slack-jawed, a faded tattoo barely visible on his right arm, before he died at 6:36 p.m., reports the Birmingham News. Hubbard was the oldest person on Alabama’s Death Row and the oldest person to be executed in the United States since 1941. Hubbard was convicted of the 1977 murder of Lillian Montgomery, a Tuscaloosa County woman who took him in when he was paroled from prison in another murder. Six members of Montgomery’s family watched Hubbard die. Her oldest son, Jimmy, said, “I’d just as soon see the electric chair still in use or maybe the firing squad. It seems like he just dozed off,” said the 66-year-old retired Army lieutenant colonel.
Hubbard’s attorney, Alan Rose, who represented him for 16 years, said, “He is a sick, frail man. He is harmless, and it makes no sense for the state of Alabama to have executed him.” Hubbard suffered from cancer, hepatitis, emphysema and other ailments. His failed appeals to stop the execution were based on claims that Hubbard was too old, sick and mentally incompetent to die. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, denied his last request for a stay. Hubbard’s attorney said there was a good reason it took 27 years to carry out the death sentence. “It’s because judges have been very troubled by some of the claims we have raised,” Rose said.