Brooks's Stay of Execution Denied, Marshall Center Looks Back at 2015

Dec 23, 2015

A collection of rockets at Huntsville's Marshall Space Flight Center

A federal judge has denied an Alabama death row inmate's emergency motion for a stay of execution.

Chief U.S. District Judge William Keith Watkins issued an order denying Christopher Brooks' request yesterday.

Brooks is scheduled to be put to death Jan. 21 for the rape and bludgeoning death of Deann Campbell more than 20 years ago. The execution would be Alabama's first in more than two years.

Brooks has argued the execution should not be carried out until a court decides the constitutionality of the state's new lethal injection drug combination. Brooks and other death row inmates argue the drugs constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

Last week, the Alabama Supreme Court unanimously refused to stop Brooks' execution. The state attorney general's office argues Brooks is using the lethal injection challenge as a last-minute ploy to avoid execution.

As 2015 winds down, the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville is looking back on big steps toward NASA’s newest U.S. made launch rocket. APR’s Pat Duggins has more.

Marshall is managing the design of the new rocket called the Space Launch System. It looks like a cross between the Saturn rockets that carried astronauts to the Moon and the Space Shuttle’s twin boosters.

Engineers in Utah test fired the motors for the new spacecraft over the summer. Technicians also built a full-scale mock-up of the re-usable boosters that will snap on either side of the main rocket. Marshall construction crew also finished two test platforms in Huntsville for the main body of the spacecraft, so it can be tested under flight conditions.

If the new rocket is successful, it will carry astronauts out of Earth’s orbit for the first time since the end of the Apollo moon landings in 1972.

If you’re planning on traveling over the Christmas holiday, you better give yourself some extra time. That’s according to officials from AAA Alabama.

Officials are expecting a near record amount of travelers on the highway to be with loved ones for Christmas.

Clay Ingram is the spokesperson for AAA Alabama. He says more than 100 million people will be traveling fifty miles or more during these next few days across the country.

“It’s the first time we’ve broke that 100 million mark so we’re excited about that. We’re expecting a lot of people out and about so if you’re going anywhere, you need to plan accordingly.”

Ingram says with so many people out on the road, drivers need to be aware of their surroundings at all times. That keeping your eyes on the road and not being distracted by cell phones or radios.

A former leader of the Etowah County Rescue Squad has been formally charged in the death of a member who was killed during a rescue operation.

The Etowah County Sheriff's Office says 49-year-old Michael Ervin Bettis of Gadsden is charged with a misdemeanor count of criminally negligent homicide.

Authorities say Bettis was the squad captain when a member died in late April after a rescue boat capsized during a recovery operation.

Officials say 46-year-old Vicky Houston Ryan was killed after being swept out of a boat that was swamped by water after getting too close to a dam on Big Wells Creek in Gadsden.

Squad members were looking for a kayaker who was presumed drowned.