ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — Alabama officials on Thursday canceled a lethal injection of a man convicted in a 1999 workplace shooting because of timing concerns and trouble accessing the inmate’s veins.
Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said prison officials halted the execution after determining that Arthur Miller’s “veins could not be accessed according to our protocol” before a midnight deadline to carry out the execution. Miller has been returned to his cell in a south Alabama jail, Hamm said.
The execution ended three hours after a divided United States Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution to begin. A 5-4 decision lifted an injunction granted after Miller’s attorneys said the state had lost its paperwork seeking to have him executed using nitrogen hypoxia, a method legally available to him but never used before this is in the usa.
Miller, 57, was convicted of killing three people in a workplace rampage in 1999, drawing the death sentence.
THIS IS NEWS NEWS HERE. Below is an earlier AP story.
ATMORE, Ala. (AP) – A divided U.S. Supreme Court said Alabama can go ahead Thursday night with the lethal injection of an inmate convicted in a 1999 workplace shooting, overruling two lower court rulings that sided with it. the condemned man and his request for another. method of execution.
The 5-4 decision overturned rulings by the 11th US Court of Appeals and a federal judge that the lethal injection could not go ahead after attorney Alan Miller said the state had lost its paperwork asking for it to be done. executed using nitrogen hypoxia, a legal method. available to him but one that has never been used before in the US
Miller, 57, was convicted of killing three people in a workplace rampage in 1999, drawing the death sentence. A judge blocked the state’s execution plan earlier this week.
Miller testified that he had entered the paperwork four years ago choosing nitrogen hypoxia as a method of execution, placing it in a slot in the door of his cell at the Holman Correctional Facility to collect a prison worker.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. issued a preliminary injunction barring the state from killing Miller by any means other than nitrogen hypoxia, after finding it “substantially probable” that Miller ” submit a timely election form even though the State says it has no physical record of a form.”
The ruling of the Supreme Court on Thursday night left that injunction at the request of the state. The justices ended the stay at about 9 pm, giving the state a three-hour window to begin the execution before the death warrant expires at midnight. Execution of July Joseph Nathan James it took more than three hours to start after the state had difficulties setting up an intravenous line.
Although Alabama has authorized nitrogen hypoxia as a method of execution, it has never executed anyone by that method and the state’s prison system has not completed 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 occupant to breathe only nitrogen, depriving him or her 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 execute an inmate using 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 pharmaceutical companies began banning the use of their products in lethal injections. As a result some alternative methods are being sought.
When Alabama approved nitrogen hypoxia as a method of execution in 2018, state law gave inmates a short window to designate it as a method of execution. Miller testified that he chose nitrogen when the form was distributed on death row because he did not like needles.
“The fact that the state is not willing to execute anyone by nitrogen hypoxia does not mean that it will harm the state or the public to honor Miller’s timely election on nitrogen hypoxia. “In contrast, if an injunction is not issued, Miller will be irrevocably deprived of his choice of how he will die – a choice granted to him by the Alabama Legislature,” Huffaker wrote.
Miller was visited by family members and an attorney Thursday as he waited to see if his execution would go ahead. He was given a tray of food that included meatloaf, chuckwagon steak, macaroni and French fries, the prison system said.
Prosecutors said Miller, a delivery truck driver, killed co-workers Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy at a business in suburban Birmingham and then drove to shoot former supervisor Terry Jarvis at a business where Miller previously worked. Each man was shot multiple times and Miller was arrested after a highway chase.
Trial evidence indicated that Miller believed the men were spreading rumors about him, including that he was gay. A psychiatrist hired by the defense found Miller to be severely mentally ill but also said Miller’s condition was not severe enough to be used as the basis for an insanity defense under state law.
This story has been corrected to show that Alabama’s last execution was in July.