Alabama carried out its first death sentence in more than two years, executing a man convicted of raping and killing a woman in 1992.
Christopher Brooks, 43, was pronounced dead at 6:38 p.m. at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, authorities said.
The procedure began several minutes after 6 p.m., shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court had denied a last-minute defense request for a stay, just one day after Texas carried out the second U.S. execution of the year.
Prior to a three-drug combination being administered, Brooks had some final words, saying: "I hope this brings closure to everybody." He thanked his loved ones repeatedly, adding "love you all ... I will take you with me in my heart ... I love y'all. Bye. I love y'all."
Authorities said it was the first execution since Alabama announced in 2014 that it was changing two of the three drugs, including switching to the sedative midazolam to render an inmate unconscious.
A prison chaplain held Brooks' hand and appeared to pray with him as the first drug, a sedative, was administered. Brooks' eyes closed, his mouth gaped open and his breathed slowed. A prison captain pinched his upper left arm and pulled open his eyelid to check for consciousness before the final two drugs were administered.
The victim's mother, Mona Campbell, said afterward in a written statement that the execution offered her no closure, but it did end the appeals that had been stressful to her family for 23 years.
"This execution did not and will not bring back my precious youngest daughter who I loved with all my heart," the statement said. Mona Campbell witnessed the execution along with two other daughters. "My hope is that Brooks, who has done this horrible inhumane act, has made his peace with God."
Three of Brooks' attorneys were in the witness chamber, along with a spiritual adviser and two friends, one of whom sobbed quietly throughout.
Brooks was sentenced to death for bludgeoning 23-year-old Jo Deann Campbell to death in her apartment. The pair had met as summer camp counselors in New York. Shortly before her death, Campbell told a friend Brooks was “sleeping on her living room floor,” court records show.
Brooks’ DNA was found on Campbell’s body, and his bloody fingerprint was identified on a doorknob in her apartment, according to records. When he was arrested, Brooks had her car keys, credit card and personal checks.
Brooks was one of six Alabama death row inmates challenging the state's use of midazolam, a sedative used during the lethal injection protocol. It has drawn national scrutiny after several botched executions.
The U.S. Supreme Court in June said midazolam did not violate a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment and cleared the drug for use in a 5-4 ruling on a challenge brought by three Oklahoma death row inmates.
In March, the Alabama Supreme Court stayed Brooks’ execution pending the outcome of the high court's ruling in the Oklahoma case, according to court records.
But U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins recently denied Brooks' request to further delay his execution over the Alabama challenge, noting that the inmate had not joined the litigation until late last fall.
“Naturally, Brooks wants in the game,” Watkins wrote, "and he is of late on the roster."
There were 28 executions in the United States last year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors capital punishment nationwide. Alabama’s last execution was in 2013.