Alan Eugene Miller was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling early Thursday vacated a lower court’s injunction in a long-running dispute over whether Miller would die that way. Nitrogen hypoxia, an untested and unproven method, was held by Alabama officials. He said he was not ready to use it.
The Alabama Department of Corrections said, “Due to delays in judicial proceedings resulting from time constraints, the execution was halted when it was determined that the offender’s veins were accessed prior to the expiration of the death warrant in accordance with our protocol. Can’t be done”. Commissioner John Hamm, according to AL.com.
Hamm said Miller has been returned to his cell on death row. Gov. Kay Ivey “expects that the execution will be reset at the earliest opportunity,” her office said in a statement.
Ivey said in a statement obtained by CNN that Hamm met with the victims’ families to inform them of the cancellation of the press conference.
“Despite the circumstances that led to the cancellation of the execution, it does not change the fact that a jury heard the evidence in this case and returned a verdict. It does not change the fact that Mr. Miller took his life. Never disputed the crimes. And that happens. Won’t change the fact that three families are still grieving,” Ivey said.
An untested method of execution is at issue.
The attempted cancellation of the execution followed weeks of legal battles between the state and Miller’s lawyers over the method by which he would die — a battle that ultimately ended up in the Supreme Court.
The inmate sued the commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, the state’s attorney general and his warden, alleging that corrections officials were moving to execute him by lethal injection after losing paperwork. He claimed that he chose to die from nitrogen hypoxia.
Miller’s complaint said the failure to honor his request violated his constitutional rights.
State officials — who suggested that Miller had made no such choice and that they had no record of his preference — indicated in court filings that they were unwilling to use nitrogen hypoxia, which Alabama adopted it as an alternative method in 2018.
The department has “completed many of the preparations necessary for execution by nitrogen hypoxia,” but its protocol “is not yet complete,” he told CNN in a statement last week. “Once the nitrogen hypoxia protocol is completed, (department) personnel will need sufficient time to be fully trained before executing an execution using this method.”
SCOTUS Vacates Injunction Staying Execution
State officials appealed the district court judge’s order, asking the U.S. 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 decision that the district court had found “a substantial likelihood that Mr. Miller timely filed the election form even though the State contends that he did not have it.” There is no physical record. A figure.”
But critics and experts reject these arguments, saying that there is no evidence that capital punishment by nitrogen hypoxia violates the constitutional protection of prisoners against cruel and unusual punishment because it has never been used and has never been used. Only it can be tested morally.
But inmates like Miller are opting for the unproven method because of concerns about the level of pain during lethal injection, Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center told CNN: are to torture whom they hope to inflict in any manner which they believe will be tortuous.”
CNN’s Ariane de Vogue contributed to this report.