Alabama authorities canceled Thursday’s lethal injection in a man convicted of a 1999 workplace shooting because of weather concerns and problems accessing his veins.
Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said the state halted Alan Miller’s scheduled execution after determining he could not begin the lethal injection before the midnight deadline. Prison officials made the decision around 11:30 pm, he said.
The last-minute adjournment came nearly three hours after the divided US Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution to begin.
“Due to time constraints resulting from the delay in court proceedings, the execution was called off as soon as it was determined that the convict’s veins could not be accessed in accordance with our protocol prior to the expiration of the death sentence,” Hamm said.
The execution team began trying to establish intravenous access, he said, but did not know for how long.
Miller was returned to his regular cell in a southern Alabama prison.
Miller, 57, was convicted of killing three people in a workplace riot in 1999, receiving the death sentence.
The judges in a 5-4 decision suspended an injunction – issued by a federal judge and upheld by the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals – that had.
Miller’s attorneys said the state lost paperwork requesting that his execution be carried out using nitrogen hypoxia, a method legally available to him but never before used in the United States.
When Alabama passed 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 turned in paperwork four years ago selecting nitrogen hypoxia as his method of execution, placing the documents in a slit in the door of his cell at the Holman Correctional Center for a prison official to collect.
Miller described how he disliked needles because of painful attempts to draw blood. He said the nitrogen method reminded him of the nitrous oxide gas used in dentists’ offices, and that sounded better than lethal injection.
“I didn’t want to get stabbed with a needle,” Miller said.
Alabama prison officials say they have no record of Miller returning the form and argued that Miller was just trying to delay his execution.
US District Judge R. Austin Hufaker Jr. issued an injunction on Tuesday blocking the state from killing Miller by any means other than nitrogen hypoxia after finding it was “substantially likely” that Miller would “present a timely election form, even though the state says it has no record.” physical form.”
Prosecutors said Miller, a delivery truck driver, killed co-workers Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy at a company in suburban Birmingham and then set out to shoot former supervisor Terry Jarvis at a company where Miller had previously worked. Each man was shot multiple times and Miller was captured after a roadside chase.
Trial testimony 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 bad enough to be used as a basis for an insanity defense under state law.
“In Alabama, we are committed to law and order and the defense of justice. Despite the circumstances that led to the cancellation of this execution, nothing will change the fact that a jury heard the evidence in this case and made a decision. the fact that Mr. Miller never contested his crimes. And that doesn’t change the fact that three families still suffer,” Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement.
“We all know very well that Michael Holdbrooks, Terry Lee Jarvis and Christopher Scott Yancey did not choose to die with bullets in the chest from their loss,” Ivey said.
Although Alabama has authorized nitrogen hypoxia as an execution method, the state has never executed anyone using the method and the Alabama prison system has not finalized procedures for using it 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, depriving him of the oxygen necessary to maintain bodily functions. It is authorized as an execution method in three states, but no state has attempted to kill an inmate by the untested method. Alabama officials told the judge they are working to finalize the protocol.
Many states have struggled to buy execution drugs in recent years after US and European drug companies began blocking the use of their products in lethal injections, prompting some states to seek alternative methods.
The aborted execution came after theit took more than three hours to start after the state struggled to establish an intravenous line, leading to accusations that the execution was botched.
Source : www.cbsnews.com