An Alabama man who was to be executed by lethal injection is still alive after authorities were unable to find his vein by the midnight deadline to execute him.
Alan Miller, 57, who was convicted in 1999 of killing three people during a workplace rampage, is now back in his cell after prison officials made the decision around 11:30 p.m. .
Alabama Commissioner of Corrections John Hamm said the state halted Miller’s scheduled execution Thursday night after determining he could not initiate the lethal injection by the midnight deadline for the death sentence.
“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 enforcement team at Holman Correctional Facility began trying to establish intravenous access, but he didn’t know for how long. Miller had previously explained how he was afraid of needles.
Hours earlier, Miller had eaten a huge last meal of meatloaf, cart steak, American cheese, fries, applesauce, instant potatoes, macaroni, apples and a drink. orange.
The confusion was compounded by a split US Supreme Court decision that cleared the way for the execution less than three hours earlier.
Alan Eugene Miller, who shot three colleagues he said were spreading rumors about him, was given an unexpected reprieve after prison officials were unable to find his veins to give him an injection lethal before midnight.
Alan Eugene Miller is seen being taken from Pelham City Jail in Alabama on August 5, 1999. Miller was due to be put to death by lethal injection on September 22, 2022 after a last-minute Supreme Court ruling paved the way
Miller’s attorneys had argued that Miller had asked to be put to death by nitrogen hypoxia, which would be performed in the Alabama death chamber seen here, and that the lethal injection was painful and inhumane.
The Supreme Court justices, in a 5-4 decision, had 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 to move forward.
Prison officials were not asked to proceed until 9:20 p.m., and family and attorneys along with members of the media were ordered to report to the facility’s execution chamber.
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.
Jail officials said they had no record of receiving the form and that Miller was simply looking for ways to delay his execution.
He had explained that he preferred this method of execution because it reminded him of the nitrous oxide used in dental offices, and it seemed better than lethal injection.
“I didn’t want to be stabbed with a needle,” Miller said.
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 was “substantially probable” that Miller “submitted a form of ‘timely election even though the state says it has no physical record of a form.’
Miller, a delivery truck driver, was sentenced to death after killing his colleagues Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy at a business in the suburbs of Birmingham, prosecutors say.
Shelby County coroner’s employees remove one of two bodies from Ferguson Enterprises in Pelham, Alabama, where two employees, Lee Holbrooks and Christopher Yancy were killed in August 1999 by Alan Eugene Miller
Miller shot two co-workers dead in their office, then killed a third person at a company he worked for
He then left 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 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.
An Alabama jury took 20 minutes to convict, in a 10-2 vote, in July 2000 and decided that Miller should be put to death. Two appeals of the verdict were dismissed.
“In Alabama, we are committed to law and order and the maintenance 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 rendered a decision.
“It does not change the fact that Mr. Miller never contested his crimes. And that doesn’t change the fact that three families are still grieving,’ 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 be shot in 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.
Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm says the execution had to be called off due to time constraints – days after U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr issued an injunction on the execution. execution by Alan Miller on the method of execution.
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.
Death by nitrogen hypoxia
Alabama switched from the electric chair to lethal injection after 2002, and in 2018 lawmakers approved the use of another method, nitrogen hypoxia, amid injection defense challenges and shortages of chemicals needed for the injection procedure.
When Alabama approved nitrogen hypoxia as an alternative method of execution, state law gave inmates a brief window to designate it as their method of execution.
Death would be caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, thus depriving him of oxygen.
Lawmakers have speculated that death by nitrogen hypoxia might be a simpler, more humane method of execution, but critics have likened the untested method to human experimentation.
Hypoxia occurs when a person lacks an adequate supply of oxygen.
Nitrogen hypoxia during an execution would be induced by having the offender breathe a gas mixture of pure nitrogen.
Nitrogen can be supplied using a medical grade oxygen tent around the head or a face mask similar to those used by firefighters.
Offenders lost consciousness about fifteen seconds after switching from oxygen to nitrogen.
About thirty seconds later they would stop producing brain waves and the heart would stop beating about two to three minutes after that.
Nor would nitrogen hypoxia probably produce the horrific deaths that result from cyanide gas executions.
The convict would feel mildly intoxicated before losing consciousness and eventually dying.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, no state has used nitrogen hypoxia to carry out an execution, and no state has developed a protocol for its use.
Alabama has not yet developed a system for using nitrogen to carry out executions, but should have protocols in place before the end of 2022.