Alabama inmate’s execution delayed after officers couldn’t find a vein
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Alabama officials have canceled the execution of a man convicted of shooting three people at the last minute over fears of a botched execution.
Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the stay blocking Alan Miller’s execution, DOC officials reported that the execution was canceled after officials could not access Alan Miller’s veins.
State officials at first declined to confirm whether Miller was still alive, but later said he was in his cell after officials missed a midnight deadline.
Media witnesses to the event were not allowed into the execution chamber to confirm Miller’s condition.
The botched execution caused concern because of its eerie similarity to the July killing of Joe Nathan James – the last person in Alabama to receive a lethal injection, whose botched execution lasted more than 3.5 hours and was the longest in US history.
Miller, 57, was convicted of killing three people in a workplace rampage in 1999 and sentenced to death.
Prosecutors said the former delivery truck driver killed co-workers Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy at a business in suburban Birmingham and then went to shoot former supervisor Terry Jarvis at a business where Miller had previously worked.
Each man was shot multiple times, and Miller was captured after a highway chase.
Evidence in the trial indicated that Miller believed the men were spreading rumors about him, including that he was gay.
A psychiatrist hired by the defense found Miller suffered from severe mental illness, but also said his condition was not severe enough to be used as the basis for an insanity defense under state law.
A federal court stayed Mr. Miller’s execution because Alabama planned to execute him by lethal injection — a method it specifically sought to avoid because of the pain and suffering it causes, opting instead for hypoxia with nitrogen — but this was overturned by the United States Supreme Court. The court at the last moment.
Maya Foe, director of human rights organization Reprieve, said: “Last month, Alabama officials tortured Joe Nathan James to death for over three hours while trying to install an IV line, then covered him up.
“Instead of stopping and investigating how their actions led to what could have been the longest recorded execution in our country’s history, they rushed Alan Miller to the execution chamber weeks later and they tried to kill him secretly.
“Officials knew they would likely subject Alan Miller to the same long and torturous procedure as Joe Nathan James and Doyle Lee Hamm, and yet they went ahead, adding to the state’s appalling history of botched executions.
“It’s hard to see how they can persist with this broken execution method that keeps going catastrophically over and over again. In its desperation to execute, Alabama experiments on prisoners behind closed doors – surely the definition of cruel and unusual punishment.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement: “In Alabama, we are committed to law and order and to upholding 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 reached a decision. It doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Miller never pleaded no contest to his crimes.
“And that doesn’t change the fact that three families are still grieving.
“We all know very well that Michael Holdbrooks, Terry Lee Jarvis and Christopher Scott Yancey did not choose to die from bullets to the chest.
“Tonight, my prayers are with the victims’ families and loved ones as they are forced to continue to relive the pain of their loss.”
The executions of Mr. Miller and Mr. James bear a striking resemblance to Alabama’s February 2018 execution attempt of Doyle Lee Hamm, who survived to share his experiences.
Hamm said jail officials spent more than two hours trying to set up an IV line, resulting in twelve puncture marks, including six in the groin and others that punctured his bladder and penetrated his femoral artery.
The practice has caused concern among campaigners that prisoners are effectively executed “twice” – first in a torturous procedure behind closed doors and again in a sanitized version to witnesses once the prisoner has actually been tortured and heavily sedated.
Although Alabama has authorized the use of painless nitrogen hypoxia as a method of execution, the state has never executed anyone using it.
Nitrogen hypoxia is a proposed method of execution in which death would be caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, thus depriving him of the oxygen necessary to maintain bodily functions.
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