Alan Eugene Miller: Alabama halts execution at last minute for prisoner who objected to method after determining it could not be completed by midnight deadline, officials say

Alan Eugene Miller was due to be executed by lethal injection after a US Supreme Court ruling earlier on Thursday overturned an injunction from a lower court in a long-running dispute over whether Miller would have died this way or hypoxia in nitrogen, an untested and untested method. Installed on Alabama officials. They said they are not ready to use.

But after the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty could go ahead with lethal injection, state officials said Thursday they could not access Miller’s veins within time limits, according to AL.com.

“Due to time constraints that delayed court proceedings, the execution was rescinded once it was determined that convicts’ veins could not be accessed according to our protocol before the death warrant had expired,” the Alabama Department of Corrections said. Commissioner Jon Hamm, according to AL.com.

Hamm said Miller was returned to his cell on death row. In a statement, her office said Governor Kai Ivey “expects a re-execution at the earliest opportunity.”

In a statement obtained by CNN, Ivey said Hamm met the families of the victims to inform them of the cancellation before they met with the press.

“Despite the circumstances that led to this overturning of this execution, nothing will change the fact that the jury heard the evidence in this case and made a decision. That does not change the fact that Mr. Miller did not appeal his crimes. It does not change the fact that three families are still grieving.”

Miller was sentenced to death for the murders of former and contemporary co-workers Lee Michael Holdbrooks, Christopher S Yancy and Terry Lee Jarvis, all of whom were fatally shot. A forensic psychiatrist who witnessed Miller’s defense determined that he was mentally ill with delusional disorder, leading him to believe that the victims were spreading rumors about him. However, the psychiatrist concluded that Miller’s mental illness did not meet the criteria for defending insanity in Alabama.

Execution method untested in the case

The aborted execution attempt came after weeks of legal battles between the state and Miller’s attorney over how he would die — a battle that ultimately ended in the Supreme Court.

On Monday, a judge in a federal district court prevented the state from executing Miller by any method other than hypoxia – a method of execution that had not been used before in the United States that critics and experts say has not yet been shown to be humane or effective though proponents claim it can. To be safer, easier, and cheaper than lethal injection.

The inmate had sued the Alabama Department of Corrections commissioner, state attorney general and prison warden, alleging that corrections officials were moving to execute him by lethal injection after losing papers in which he claimed he chose to die from lack of oxygen in nitrogen.

Miller’s complaint said the failure to honor his request violated his constitutional rights.

State officials — who suggested Miller made no such choice and had no record of favoring it — indicated in court filings that they were not willing to use nitrogen hypoxia, which Alabama agreed to as an alternative implementation method in 2018.

She told CNN last week in a statement that the administration had “completed numerous preparations needed to conduct nitrogen-oxygen lynchings”, but that its protocol was “not yet complete.” “Once the nitrogen hypoxia protocol is complete, (department) personnel will need sufficient time to be fully trained before performing implementation with this method.”

Scotos invalidates the stay order

State officials appealed the district judge’s order, asking the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to allow it to proceed with Miller’s execution by lethal injection.

The Eleventh Circuit upheld the lower court’s order, writing in a 32-page ruling that the district court found “it is highly probable that Mr. Miller will file an election form in due course even though the state says it has no record of any physical form.”

“The state does not contest this factual discovery, and has utterly failed to say (let alone show) that it will suffer irreparable harm,” the order read.
State officials appealed to the US Supreme Court, which ruled in order 5-4 Thursday that the execution could go ahead. Judges Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Emmy Connie Barrett and Kitangi Brown Jackson voted to leave the residence in place.
The claims of those supporting the nitrogen gas executions may sound appealing, given the countries’ continuing problems in obtaining drugs for lethal injections and recent executions deemed abortive, either because the inmate suffered unusually or because the process deviated from the protocol outlined by officials.

But critics and experts dismiss these arguments, saying there is no evidence that hypoxia-nitrogen executions would abide by the constitutional protections of prisoners from cruel and unusual punishment because they were never used and cannot be morally tested.

But prisoners like Miller choose the unproven method due to concerns about the level of pain they might suffer during a lethal injection, Robert Dunham, of the Death Penalty Information Center, told CNN: “They choose a method they hope won’t. They are tormented by a method they are certain of. She will be tormented.”

CNN’s Ariane de Vogue contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: