Lethal injection called off when Alabama executioners can't find a vein, state says

  • In US
  • 2022-09-23 20:21:49Z
  • By Biloxi Sun Herald

An Alabama death row inmate was scheduled for lethal injection on Thursday, Sept. 22, but the execution was called off when prison staff weren't able to locate the man's veins, the state said.

Alan Miller, a 57-year-old man convicted in the killing of three people during two workplace shootings in 1999, was sentenced to death and scheduled for a lethal injection after a divided U.S. Supreme Court vote, The Associated Press reported.

"Due to time constraints resulting from the lateness of the court proceedings, the execution was called off once it was determined the condemned inmate's veins could not be accessed in accordance with our protocol before the expiration of the death warrant," Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm told the AP, adding that "accessing the veins was taking a little bit longer than we anticipated."

Discussions, appeals and tension filled the hours leading up to the U.S. Supreme Court's vote allowing Alabama to move forward with Miller's execution at William C. Holman Correctional Facility, WIAT reported. It wasn't until nearly 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 22 that the Alabama Department of Corrections told the TV station that it had received the green light to proceed with the lethal injection.

Earlier in the evening, Miller met with six visitors and had a meal of meatloaf and chuck wagon steak, which at the time was expected to be his last meal, WIAT reported.

According to prosecutors, Miller was a delivery truck driver and was convicted of killing co-workers Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy at a business in Birmingham before driving to a business where he previously worked and shot his former supervisor Terry Jarvis, the AP reported.

Part of the legal snags in Miller's execution process was because Miller requested to die by nitrogen hypoxia instead of legal injection, a request that the state of Alabama said it did not receive from Miller, WIAT reported.

"Mr. Miller will be executed, and there is every reason to believe he will be executed soon," Miller's attorneys wrote in the Supreme Court filing leading up to the vote, according to AL.com. "All he asks is that the State respect the choice the legislature gave him: to die by nitrogen hypoxia instead of lethal injection."

"You know, it's my life," Miller wrote in his disposition, according to AL.com. "And I know I didn't want to be stabbed with needles and everything like that. I thought it would be simpler."

The Alabama Department of Corrections is not prepared to perform an execution by nitrogen hypoxia, according an article in the Death Penalty Information Center.

Nitrogen hypoxia executions, which have only recently been considered and approved among states, are administered by having the prisoner breathe pure nitrogen instead of oxygen and eventually cause them to asphyxiate, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Miller's execution isn't the first that the state has had to call off. In 2018, the department of corrections "botched" the execution of Doyle Lee Hamm after attempting to insert intravenous execution needles more than 10 times, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said with the cancellation of the lethal injection, the three families of Miller's victims are still grieving, KHOU reported.

"Despite the circumstances that led to the cancellation of this execution, nothing will change the fact that a jury heard the evidence of this case and made a decision," Ivey said in a statement, according to the outlet.

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