Alabama executions canceled due to time and health concerns

Alabama authorities stopped Thursday’s lethal injection of a man convicted of a 1999 workplace shooting.

Alabama Correctional Commissioner Jon Hamm said the state had canceled the scheduled execution of Alan Miller because it determined that the lethal injection could not be administered by the midnight deadline. Prison officials made a decision around 11:30 pm. A last-minute reprieve was granted almost three hours after the split US Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution to begin.

“The execution was halted after it was determined that due to time constraints due to delays in court proceedings, the veins of those on death row could not be accessed in accordance with protocol before the expiration of the death warrant,” Ham said. The team began trying to establish intravenous access, but he wasn’t sure how long it would last.

Miller was returned to a regular cell in a southern Alabama prison.

Miller, 57, was convicted of killing three people in a 1999 workplace riot and was sentenced to death.

In a 5-4 ruling, the judge lifted the injunction issued by a federal judge and held by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Miller’s attorneys submitted papers to the state requesting that his execution be carried out using nitrogen hypoxia, a method legally available to him but never before used in the United States. said to have been lost.

When Alabama approved nitrogen hypoxia as an execution method in 2018, state law gave inmates a short period of time to designate it as an execution method. He testified that he had opted for oxygen and handed in his paperwork by placing it in a slot in the door of his cell at Holman Correctional Facility for prison officials to collect.

Miller was to be put to death by nitrogen hypoxia, a method never used by the state of Alabama.

US District Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday prohibiting the state from killing Miller by means other than nitrogen hypoxia. “

Prosecutors have arrested Terry Jarvis, a former supervisor at a business Miller previously worked for, after delivery truck driver Miller murdered co-workers Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancey at a business outside Birmingham. Each man was shot multiple times and Miller was captured after a highway chase.

According to trial testimony, Miller believed the man was spreading rumors about him, including that he was gay. Although he discovered he suffered from mental illness, he said Miller’s condition was not bad enough to use as the basis for an insanity defense under state law.

“In Alabama, we uphold law and order and uphold justice. What is the fact that the jury heard the evidence in this case and made a decision despite the circumstances that led to the cancellation of this execution?” Mr. Miller has never challenged his crimes, and the fact remains that three families are still grieving,” the governor of Alabama said. said. Kay Ivey said in a statement.

“We are all well aware that Michael Holdbrooks, Terry Lee Jarvis and Christopher Scott Yancey did not choose to die by gunshot to the chest. I pray that you are forced to continue to relive the pain of loss with your loved ones.

Although Alabama approves nitrogen hypoxia as an execution method, the state has never executed anyone using this method, and Alabama’s prison system uses it to carry out death sentences. The procedure has not been finalized.

Nitrogen hypoxia is a proposed method of execution that results in death by forcing prisoners to breathe only nitrogen, thereby depriving them of the oxygen needed to maintain bodily functions. Three states have approved it as a method of execution, but no state has attempted to execute an inmate using an untested method. Officials in Alabama told a judge they were working to finalize the protocol.

Many states have struggled to buy the executioner in recent years after drug companies in the US and Europe began blocking the use of the product in lethal injections.

The execution was halted after the state struggled to establish an intravenous line, and it took more than three hours for the execution of Joe Nathan James in July to proceed, leading to accusations that the execution had failed. After

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