Washington, DC – The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would not review the case of an Alabama cop killer whose death sentence was imposed by a judge after the jury voted to give him life in prison.
On Sept. 28, 2006, Montgomery Police Officer Keith Houts was shot in the head while he was making a traffic stop on North Decatur Street, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Then the killer, later identified as Mario Dion Woodward, stood over the officer and fired multiple rounds into his chest.
Dashcam video revealed that Woodward shot 30-year-old Officer Houts through the jaw as soon as he approached his vehicle, the WSFA reported.
The bullet traveled through the officer’s neck and severed his spine, killing him instantly.
"Even after the killer's first shot cut down his victim, he proceeded to shoot the fallen officer four more times," Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said as he fought Woodward’s effort to overturn his conviction before the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in April of 2018.
Woodward convinced his girlfriend and her friend to drive him to Birmingham after he murdered Officer Houts, and the killer confessed to his crime to them, WSFA reported.
Prosecutors said he threw the gun out of the window along the way and hooked up with a friend in Birmingham to flee the state.
Federal marshals apprehended Woodward at an Atlanta gas station, according to WSFA.
“What's going on? I didn't shoot nobody,” he blurted when he was captured.
Woodward was charged with two counts of capital murder because he shot an on-duty police officer from inside his vehicle, WFSA reported.
A Montgomery jury sentenced the cop killer to life in prison in 2008, in a vote of 8 to 4 against imposing the death penalty, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
But Montgomery County Circuit Judge Truman Hobbs overrode the jury’s verdict and sentenced Woodward to death.
In 2017, Alabama law changed so that judges could no longer impose the death penalty against the wishes of a jury, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
It was the last state in the nation where a judge could overrule a jury’s decision in a capital case and Woodward’s attorneys filed another appeal.
Hobbs stood by his decision to upgrade the sentence to a death sentence, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
The judge said the sentence was based partially on the fact that Woodward had previously served eight years in prison on another murder conviction.
In November of 2018, the Alabama Supreme Court denied Woodward’s appeal, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
So his attorneys took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court to argue that his sentence was unconstitutional.
The justices announced on Oct. 7 that they would not review Woodward’s case, the Associated Press reported.
The cop killer has the option to pursue the fight in the lower courts.