The execution of Alabama man Alan Miller was canceled due to time and medical concerns

Alabama officials canceled Thursday’s lethal injection of a man convicted in a 1999 workplace shooting over time concerns and difficulty accessing the inmate’s veins.

Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said the state halted the planned execution of Alan Miller after they determined they could not get the lethal injection going before midnight. Prison officials made the decision around 11:30 p.m. The last-minute grace period came nearly three hours after a divided US Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution to begin.

“Due to time constraints arising from the delay in the trial, the execution was called off after it was determined that the convicted inmate’s veins were inaccessible under our protocol prior to the expiration of the death sentence,” Hamm said. The execution team tried to get an IV line, but for how long they didn’t know.

Miller was returned to his regular cell in a South Alabama jail.

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

Judges, in a 5-4 decision, reversed an injunction issued by a federal judge and upheld by the 11th Circuit Court of Circuits that had blocked Miller’s execution. Miller’s attorneys said the state lost the paperwork requesting that his execution be carried out using nitrogen hypoxia, a method that is legally available to him but has never been used before in the United States.

When Alabama approved nitrogen hypoxia as a method of execution in 2018, state law gave inmates a brief window to designate it as their method of execution. Miller testified that four years ago he filed paperwork, choosing nitrogen hypoxia as his method of execution, and stuck the documents in a slot in his cell door at Holman Correctional Facility for a prison officer to collect.

Arthur Mueller.
Miller was to be killed by nitrogen hypoxia, a method the state of Alabama never used.

U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. Tuesday issued an injunction preventing the state from killing Miller by means other than nitrogen hypoxia after determining that it was “substantially likely” that Miller was “a submitted a timely ballot form, although the state says it has no physical record of a form.”

Prosecutors said Miller, a van driver, killed colleagues Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy at a shop in suburban Birmingham and then drove to shoot former supervisor Terry Jarvis at a shop where Miller had previously worked. Each man was shot multiple times and Miller was captured after a freeway chase.

Court hearings revealed that Miller believed the men were spreading rumors about him, including that he was gay. A defense-hired psychiatrist found that Miller was suffering from a serious mental illness, but also said that Miller’s condition was not bad enough to use as the basis of a state-law insanity defense.

“In Alabama, we are committed to law and order and the upholding of justice. Despite the circumstances that led to the annulment of this execution, nothing changes the fact that a jury heard the evidence in this case and made a decision. It doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Miller has never denied his crimes. And it doesn’t change the fact that three families are still grieving,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.

“We all know for a fact that Michael Holdbrooks, Terry Lee Jarvis and Christopher Scott Yancey didn’t choose to die by bullets in the chest. Tonight my prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims as they are forced to relive the pain of their loss,” Ivey said.

Although Alabama has authorized nitrogen hypoxia as a method of execution, the state has never executed anyone using the method, and the Alabama prison system has not yet completed procedures for using this method to carry out a death sentence.

Nitrogen hypoxia is a proposed method of execution in which death would be caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, thereby depriving him or her of the oxygen needed to sustain bodily functions. It is legal as a method of execution in three states, but no state has attempted to kill an inmate by the untested method. Alabama officials told the judge they are working to finalize the record.

Many states have struggled to buy execution drugs in recent years after US and European drug companies began blocking the use of their products in lethal injections. This has prompted some to look for alternative methods.

The aborted execution came after Joe Nathan James’ July execution lasted more than three hours after the state struggled to set up an IV line, prompting allegations that the execution had been botched. The execution of Alabama man Alan Miller was canceled due to time and medical concerns


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