Alabama to carry out first death penalty since 2013
Gurney used for lethal injections (AFP)

Alabama plans on Thursday to carry out its first death sentence in more than two years, executing a man convicted of raping and killing a woman in 1992.

Christopher Brooks, 44, was scheduled to be killed by lethal injection at 6 p.m. CST at the state's death chamber in Atmore just one day after Texas carried out the second U.S. execution of the year.

There were 28 executions in the United States last year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors capital punishment nationwide.

Brooks was sentenced to death for bludgeoning 23-year-old Jo Deann Campbell to death in her apartment. The pair had previously 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.

He is 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, noted 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."

(Editing by Letitia Stein and Lisa Von Ahn)