David Wilson vs. John Q. Hamm

David Wilson has been on Alabama's death row at Holman Prison since 2008. He is represented by Professor Bernard E. Harcourt, and his federal habeas petition is currently before the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Southern Division. 

David Wilson

David Wilson has been on Alabama's death row since 2008 when he was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. David and three other persons were accused of burglarizing a home during which the owner, Mr. Dewey Walker, was tragically killed. One of the other codefendants was a young woman named Kittie Corley. 

While in jail awaiting her trial in 2004, Kittie Corley wrote a letter in which she admitted to her involvement and took responsibility for the murder. Her letter was ultimately seized by the prosecutor and then hidden. Despite the letter's obvious exculpatory nature, her letter was never turned over to David Wilson's trial counsel, his state post-conviction counsel, or his first federal habeas counsel, despite over ten requests for production. The state of Alabama withheld the letter for almost twenty years.

David Wilson and his new legal team finally received a scanned copy of the letter on March 31, 2023,  after Judge Keith Watkins of the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama ordered its production. It turns out that, in her letter, Kittie Corley confesses to be involved in not one, but two murders. The Associated Press covered this new development on April 11, 2023 in an article titled "Jurors never heard of accomplice in death row case." Mr. Wilson, through his attorney, petitioned that the state turn over the other side of the sheet of paper on which the letter is written, which likely contains information on the second murder, and the court granted the petition on June 21, 2023. The state turned over the back side of the later on June 28, 2024. Additional discovery on Ms. Corley's engagement in other illicit activities was turned over on December 7, 2023.

The December 7, 2023 revelations included two police interrogations of Kittie Corley by the Henry County Sheriff’s Department in 2005, and a statement from 2004 by Corley’s cellmate concerning her involvement in the murder of CJ Hatfield, the additional murder that she writes about on the back side of her letter. The murder of CJ Hatfield appears to have been motivated by internal strife within a Dothan drug trafficking ring in which Kittie Corley was heavily involved. The new evidence corroborated what Kittie Corley wrote in her letter — she was not only a key member of the drug trafficking ring, but had primary responsibility over the murder weapon and was personally involved with the two ringleaders of the murder and drug trafficking enterprise. These documents had never been turned over to Mr. Wilson until December 2023.

Mr. Wilson and his legal team are currently litigating the production of additional discovery concerning Ms. Corley and the state's investigation into the two murders she was involved in.

Mr. Wilson's petition for writ of habeas corpus raises mental health, Brady v. MarylandBatson v. Kentucky, and ineffective assistance of counsel claims. After entering his notice of appearance in November 2019, Professor Harcourt is preparing to amend the petition for writ of habeas corpus.

Following the execution of Mr. Kenneth Smith by the State of Alabama on January 25, 2024, Professor Harcourt filed a §1983 civil rights lawsuit against the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, Mr. John Q. Hamm, to enjoin the State from executing Mr. David Wilson by nitrogen gas asphyxiation, or what the state euphemistically calls “nitrogen hypoxia.” The lawsuit also requests a declarative judgment that the nitrogen gas asphyxiation method violates Mr. Wilson’s Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.  

Mr. Wilson's federal habeas case and method of execution civil rights lawsuit are before Judge Austin Huffaker of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.

Recent Court Filings 

In the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Southern Division

Challenge to Nitrogen Gas Asphyxiation Execution Protocol

Complaint filed by David Wilson and Appendix (February 15, 2024)

On the Brady violation and failure to disclose the Kittie Corley letter 

The state of Alabama has been in possession of the Kittie Corley letter, in which she admits to hitting Mr. Walker with a baseball bat "till he fell," for almost twenty years. After over ten requests by previous counsel and a new slew of pleadings focused on the Brady issue by new counsel from the moment of his appointment, the state finally turned the letter over on March 30, 2023. Following additional litigation, the verso side of the letter, which concerns the involvement of Ms. Corley in another murder, was turned over on June 28, 2023. Additional discovery on Ms. Corley's engagement in other illicit activities was turned over on December 7, 2023. Mr. Wilson and his legal team are currently litigating the production of additional discovery concerning Ms. Corley and the state's investigation into the two murders she was involved in.

Petitioner's Fifth Motion for Brady Discovery (February 23, 2024, Doc. #100)

Petitioner's Motion for an Englargement of Time to File Petitioner's Reply Re. Fourth Brady Motion for Full Disclosure of Kittie Corley's Statements (December 30, 2023, Doc. #87)

Respondent's Response to Order to Show Cause Re. Petitioner's Fourth Motion for Full Disclosure (December 7, 2023, Doc. #86)

Respondent's Response to Order and Motion for Extension (November 16, 2023, Doc. #84)

Order to Show Cause Re. Petitioner's Fourth Motion for Full Disclosure (November 3, 2023, Doc. #83)

Petitioner's Fourth Motion for Full Disclosure of Kittie Corley's Statement and Notice of Compliance (July 19, 2023, Doc. #81)

Order Granting Petitioner's Motion for Full Disclosure of the Kittie Corley Letter [both sides] (June 21, 2023, Doc. #79)

Petitioner's Reply to Respondent's Opposition to His Motion for Full Disclosure of the Kittie Corley Letter (April 27, 2023, Doc. #75)

Motion for Full Disclosure of the Kittie Corley Letter (March 31, 2023, Doc. #70)

Memorandum Opinion and Order on Petitioner's Renewed Motion for Disclosure of Ongoing Brady Material (J. Keith Watkins, March 27, 2023, Doc. # 67)

Petitioner's Reply to Respondent's Response to Renewed Motion for Disclosure of Ongoing Brady Material (December 19, 2022, Doc. #65)

Preliminary Reply to Respondent's Answer (November 7, 2022, Doc. #62)

Renewed Motion for Disclosure of Ongoing Brady Material (November 7, 2022, Doc. #60)

January 23, 2020 Hearing Transcript Re. Brady Issue (January 23, 2020, Doc. #42)

On David Wilson's Asperger's Syndrome

It is evident from Mr. Wilson's school records, interviews with his family, and other written documentation, Mr. Wilson shows many markers of Asperger's Syndrome and is on the autism spectrum. Although he had never been formally diagnosed prior to trial, experts retained by post-conviction counsel have found Mr. Wilson's behaviors and history to be consistent with an Asperger's diagnosis. 

Order Granting Accommodations in Filing Schedule for David Wilson (April 14, 2023, Doc. #74)

Motion for Extension of Time, Accommodations, and Clarification (April 10, 2023, Doc. #72)

On the Covid-19 Pandemic and Effect

In March 2020, as a global pandemic suddenly posed extreme restrictions on the activities of people across the world, Mr. Wilson's attorneys moved to suspend all deadlines in Mr. Wilson's case due to counsel's inability to represent Mr. Wilson effectively. Counsel was unable to travel to visit Mr. Wilson or appear in court in person, and lacked access to office resources necessary for legal representation. The case was put on pause until August 2022.

Motion to Temporarily Suspend Deadlines During the COVID-19 Pandemic (March 25, 2020, Doc. #54)

On the Appointment of Bernard E. Harcourt as counsel for David Wilson and Initial Brady Hearing

Mr. Wilson's current attorney, Professor Bernard E. Harcourt, was appointed as counsel of record in the fall of 2019. Professor Harcourt centered the Brady issue as a condition of his appointment both in pleadings and at an in-person hearing on January 23, 2020.

January 23, 2020 Hearing Transcript Re. Brady Issue (January 23, 2020, Doc. #42)

Reply to Respondent's Response Re. Counsel’s Notice of Appearance and Petitioner’s Motion for a Status Conference, for Appointment of Counsel, and for an Order of Disclosure (December 27, 2019, Doc. #36)

Notice of Appearance and Motion for a Status Conference, for Appointment of Counsel, and for an Order of Disclosure (November 20, 2019, filed by Professor Bernard E. Harcourt, Doc. #29)

The Habeas Corpus Petition

Prior to the appointment of current counsel Bernard E. Harcourt, attorneys at the Federal Defenders Office for the Middle District of Alabama filed a habeas corpus petition on Mr. Wilson's behalf. Mr. Wilson's petition raises mental health, Brady v. MarylandBatson v. Kentucky, and ineffective assistance of counsel claims

Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (April 22, 2019, filed by the Federal Defenders of the Middle District of Alabama, Doc. #1)