A man convicted of killing a 75-year-old woman with a claw hammer in 2001 could be executed this summer 22 years after being put on Alabama’s death row.

James Edward Barber was sentenced to death in 2004 for the murder of Dorothy Epps.

Epps was at her home in Harvest when Barber, who knew her through her daughter and had done handy work for her, came into her home, punched her in the face, then attacked her with a claw hammer. An autopsy showed although Epps weighed only 100 pounds, she fought for her life.

Along with defensive wounds, the medical examiner discovered 19 lacerations in her head and seven fractures in her skull. She also had bruises, cuts and fractures all over her body, including rib fractures and claw hammer injuries to her abdominal and lower chest.

After he killed Epps, Barber fled the scene with her purse.

The death warrant for Barber, 64, set a timeframe for sometime after June 2.

“According to the Alabama Supreme Court’s order, the execution time frame set by the governor must begin sometime after Friday, June 2, 2023, and Gov. Ivey will work with the Alabama Department of Corrections to establish this time frame,” Ivey's spokeswoman Gina Maiola said.

After an internal review of the execution process in Alabama, new rules were established, such as changing the death warrant authorizing the state to carry out an execution in a single day. This will give the state more time to carry out a death sentence.

The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) also added more medical professionals and new equipment and has undergone execution rehearsals.

Meanwhile, Barber will continue to be in close custody at Holman Prison. Close custody is the most restrictive custody level in the state. He is in a single cell and can only come out if restrained.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.