Nathaniel Woods’ execution doesn’t end the controversy over his case

FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2005, file photo, Nathaniel Woods watches as the jury enters the courtroom during his murder trial in Birmingham, Ala. Martin Luther King, III, the son of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as family members of Woods, a condemned Alabama inmate, are asking the governor to to stop his execution. Woods is scheduled to be executed on Thursday, March 5, 2020. Woods and co-defendant Kerry Spencer were convicted of capital murder for the 2004 killings of three Birmingham police officers. Spencer was also sentenced to death for the killings. (Mark Almond/The Birmingham News via AP, File) (Mark Almond)

Birmingham, Ala. (CNN) – High-profile supporters on both sides of a controversial death penalty case are still trading barbs, even after Nathaniel Woods was executed Thursday night in Alabama.

Convicted in 2005 in the killings of three Birmingham officers, Wood's co-defendant, who fired the shots, had claimed since his arrest that Woods didn't have a gun and ran away when the firing began. Beyond questions about his culpability were doubts he was adequately represented at trial.

"The actions of the US Supreme Court and the Governor of the State of Alabama are reprehensible and have potentially contributed to an irreversible injustice," Martin Luther King III, the son of the civil rights icon, wrote on Twitter of Woods' execution.

"It makes a mockery of justice and constitutional guarantees to a fair trial."

Activist Shaun King said the state "just executed an innocent man."

"We are crushed that Nate experienced this grizzly injustice and crushed for his family," King wrote on Twitter. "This is a modern day lynching. He broke no laws, at all. Never fired a gun. And surrendered."

A relative of one of the officers killed, meantime, described the execution as a step toward justice.

"Partial justice has been served today for our families. One cop killer down as we patiently wait for the next one," said a statement read by Starr Sidelinker, Harley Chisholm III's sister, on behalf of her sister, Rhonda. "No petitions could stop this day from him taking his last breath."

Also slain were Charles Bennett and Carlos Owen. Another officer, Michael Collins, was shot in the leg and survived.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican who refused to stop the execution, said Thursday night that Woods was an "integral participant in the intentional murder of these three officers." She described him in her statement as a "known drug dealer."

"There is no evidence, and no argument has been made, that Nathaniel Woods tried to stop the gunman from committing these heinous crimes," she said. "After thorough and careful consideration of the facts surrounding the case, the initial jury's decision, the many legal challenges and reviews, I concluded that the state of Alabama should carry out Mr. Woods' lawfully imposed sentence this evening."

Hours before Woods' death, the US Supreme Court temporarily halted the execution but later denied a stay.

Woods did not make a final statement and was pronounced dead at 9:01 p.m., the state corrections department said.