Alabama officials canceled Thursday’s lethal injection of a man convicted in a 1999 workplace shooting due to timing issues and difficulty accessing the inmate’s veins.
Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said the state halted the scheduled execution of Alan Miller after determining he could not initiate the lethal injection by the midnight deadline. Prison officials made the decision around 11:30 p.m. The last-minute stay came nearly three hours after a divided US Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution to begin.
“Due to time constraints resulting from the delay in the court proceedings, the execution was canceled once it was determined that the convicted inmate’s veins could not be viewed in accordance with our protocol prior to the expiration of the execution. ‘death sentence,’ Hamm said. The execution team started trying to establish intravenous access, but he didn’t know for how long.
Miller was returned to his regular cell in a southern Alabama jail.
Miller, 57, was convicted of murdering three people during a workplace rampage in 1999, carrying the death penalty.
The judges in a 5-4 decision lifted an injunction – issued by a federal judge and left in place by the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals – that had prevented Miller’s execution from going ahead. Miller’s attorneys said the state had lost the documents asking for his execution to be carried out by nitrogen hypoxia, a method legally available to him but never used before in the United States.
When Alabama approved nitrogen hypoxia as a method of execution in 2018, state law gave inmates a brief window to designate it as their method of execution. Miller testified that he handed over documents four years ago by choosing nitrogen hypoxia as his method of execution, placing the documents through a slot in his cell door at Holman Correctional Facility for a prison employee to pick them up.
U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday restraining the state from killing Miller by any means other than nitrogen hypoxia after finding it “substantially probable” that Miller “submitted a timely election form even though the state says it has no physical record of a form.
Prosecutors said Miller, a delivery truck driver, killed his colleagues Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy at a business in the Birmingham suburbs, then left to shoot former supervisor Terry Jarvis at a business where Miller worked previously. Each man was shot multiple times, and Miller was captured after a freeway chase.
Testimony at trial indicated that Miller believed the men were spreading rumors about him, including that he was gay. A psychiatrist hired by the defense found that Miller suffered from a serious mental illness, but also said that Miller’s condition was not serious enough to form the basis of an insanity defense under the law of the state. ‘State.
“In Alabama, we are committed to law and order and the upholding of justice. Despite the circumstances that led to this execution being overturned, nothing will change the fact that a jury heard the evidence of this case and rendered a decision. It doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Miller has never contested his crimes. And it doesn’t change the fact that three families are still grieving,” said the Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, in a statement.
“We all know full well that Michael Holdbrooks, Terry Lee Jarvis and Christopher Scott Yancey did not choose to die by gunshot to the chest. Tonight my prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims as they are forced to continue to relive the pain of their loss,” Ivey said.
Although Alabama has authorized nitrogen hypoxia as a method of execution, the state has never executed anyone using this method, and the Alabama prison system has not finalized procedures for the execution. use to carry out a death sentence.
Nitrogen hypoxia is a proposed method of execution in which death would be caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, thereby depriving them of the oxygen needed to maintain bodily functions. It is authorized as a method of execution in three states, but no state has attempted to put an inmate to death by the untested method. Alabama officials told the judge they were working to finalize the protocol.
Many states have struggled to buy enforcement drugs in recent years after US and European pharmaceutical companies began blocking the use of their products in lethal injections. This has led some to look for alternative methods.
The aborted execution came after the execution of Joe Nathan James in July took more than three hours to start after the state had difficulty establishing an IV line, leading to accusations that the execution had been botched.
New York Post