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Alabama to execute two in October

Two Alabama men convicted of murder are scheduled for execution in October, according to an official in the clerk’s office at the Alabama Supreme Court.

The court earlier this week set an Oct. 5 execution date for Jeffrey Lynn Borden and an Oct. 19 execution date for Torrey Twane McNabb. Both men are on death row in Holman Prison in Atmore.

McNabb has been in prison since the late 1990s for the 1997 murder of Montgomery police officer Anderson Gordon. Court records show that McNabb shot the officer during a chase in which McNabb was fleeing from a bail bondsman.

Borden shot and killed his estranged wife during a Christmas gathering in Gardendale in 1993, court documents state.

“We’re just disappointed,” said Christine Freeman, a lawyer who is representing both men in appeals. “These two cases have plenty of issues that still need to be aired.”

Freeman said Borden is mentally ill, and was mentally ill well before his arrest.

McNabb still has an appeal working its way through federal court.

In a Florida case, Hurst v. Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that no one could be sentenced to death without a sentence handed down by a jury — a ruling that threw open the door to appeals of death sentences in Alabama, where judges until this year had the power to hand down death sentences even if a jury recommended life.

In McNabb’s case, Freeman said, the jury did recommend death in a 10-2 vote. McNabb’s legal team argues that his case falls under Hurst because the judge, and not the jury, made the ruling on aggravating and mitigating factors leading to the death sentence.

In a brief emailed statement, Joy Patterson, a spokeswoman for the Alabama attorney general’s office acknowledged that the execution dates were set and said the office would not comment further.

Prosecutors in June requested execution dates for the two men as well as for Doyle Lee Hamm, who was convicted of the 1987 shooting of a Cullman motel clerk.

A court official said Wednesday that no execution date has yet been set for Hamm.

“There are medical complications in Doyle Hamm’s case,” said Bernard Harcourt, a Columbia University law professor who is representing Hamm. Harcourt said Hamm has late-stage cranial and lymphatic cancer, and the state’s motion for an execution date is pending while lawyers look into the inmate’s condition.

The execution plans seem to confirm that the state still has a supply of midazolam, rocuronium and potassium chloride, the drugs used in executions by lethal injection. Drugmakers in recent years have been increasingly reluctant to provide drugs for lethal injection, citing ethical concerns. Florida was forced to switch execution drugs earlier this year when its midazolam supply went out of date; Arkansas scheduled multiple back-to-back executions in April in order to beat the expiration date on its drugs.

State officials have been secretive about where and when they buy their execution drugs,though the last known purchase of midazolam, revealed in court records, came in 2015.

Midazolam has a shelf life of two to three years, pharmacists told The Star earlier this year.

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.