Convicted murderer James D. Briley, standing behind bars only a few steps away from the state's electric chair where he is scheduled to be executed April 18, was married today in a simple ceremony to a woman who is writing a book about his life.

"It was real positive," said corrections department spokeswoman Kathi King, who said the ceremony, originally scheduled for Friday, was moved up to 5:30 p.m. today by Warden E. L. Booker, who cited unspecified security reasons.

The ceremony in the prison's basement was conducted by State Penitentiary Chaplain Marjorie Bailey and witnessed by Briley's father, Booker and about 10 administrative and security employes. Briley's mother did not attend because of illness, King said. Reporters were not allowed to attend.

The bride, Evangeline Grant Redding, 44, was strip-searched before the ceremony, King said. She said the couple was allowed to hold hands and kiss after the ceremony, which had no music. The couple exchanged brief vows and personal statements, King said.

Briley, 28, who was sentenced to die for the murder of a pregnant Richmond woman and her 5-year-old son, is the brother of Linwood E. Briley, executed last year for his part in the killings. Both brothers were among six death row inmates who escaped last May 31 from the state prison in Mecklenburg. All were subsequently recaptured.

Redding told United Press International that the ceremony strengthened her conviction that Briley was innocent. "We're going to free this man because he's innocent," she said. "He is not going to be executed."

Briley's father described the ceremony as "great" and said his son was "real happy."