State executes man convicted in 1997 Pelham murders

MONTGOMERY – On Thursday, May 16, Alabama Death Row inmate Michael Brandon Samra, 42, was executed by lethal injection for his role in a 1997 quadruple murder.

Samra

Samra was 19 when he and his co-defendant, then 16-year-old Mark Anthony Duke, were charged with killing Mark Duke’s father Randy Duke, his fiancée Dedra Mims Hunt, and her two daughters, 6-year-old Chelisa Nicole Hunt and 7-year-old Chelsea Marie Hunt.

According to court records, Mark Duke came up with the murder plot because he was angry with his father for not allowing him to use his pickup truck.

Samra was convicted of capital murder a year later after confessing, and was sentenced to death for his role in the murders. Originally, Mark Duke was also sentenced to death, but his sentence was later overturned and changed to life in prison pursuant to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning execution for offenders who committed their crimes while they were juveniles.

Samra’s legal team appealed his execution to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing his age at the time of the murders should exclude him from the death penalty. However, the Supreme Court ruled on May 14 that it would not review the case and would not stay Samra’s execution. Samra’s official time of death on May 16 was 7:33 p.m., according to prison officials.

After being notified of Samra’s execution, Gov. Kay Ivey released the following statement: “For more than 20 years, the loved ones of Randy, Dedra and the two young daughters Chelisa and Chelsea have mourned an unbearable and unimaginable loss. Four lives were brutally taken far too soon because of the malicious, intentional and planned-out murders by Michael Brandon Samra.

“Alabama will not stand for the loss of life in our state, and with this heinous crime, we must respond with punishment. These four victims deserved a future, and Mr. Samra took that opportunity away from them and did so with no sense of remorse. This evening justice has been delivered to the loved ones of these victims, and it signals that Alabama does not tolerate murderous acts of any nature.

“After careful consideration of the horrendous nature of the crime, the jury’s decision and all factors surrounding the case, the state of Alabama carried out Mr. Samra’s sentence this evening. Although this can never recover the lives lost, I pray that their loved ones can finally find a sense of peace.”

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall also issued a statement following the execution: “On March 23, 1997, Michael Samra and his friend Mark Duke coldly executed their plan to murder Duke’s father, Randy Duke, along with his father’s girlfriend, Dedra Hunt, and her 6- and 7-year-old daughters, Chelisa and Chelsea. One cannot possibly imagine a more terrifying ordeal for the victims. Randy Duke was shot in the head. Dedra Hunt was shot multiple times as she attempted to flee with one of her daughters. Samra and Duke then proceeded to kill both of the young girls, cutting their throats. Samra was convicted of capital murder in 1998 and received his just punishment: a sentence of death. After too many years of delay, justice has finally been served. Tonight, we pray for the victims and for their families, that they might find peace and closure.”