UPDATE: State Tells Federal Judge It’s Not Ready to Execute by Nitrogen Hypoxia

Death Penalty Alabama

This undated photograph provided by the Alabama Department of Corrections shows inmate Alan Eugene Miller, who was convicted of capital murder in a workplace shooting rampage that killed three men in 1999. (Alabama Department of Corrections via AP)

State officials say they are not ready to carry out an execution by nitrogen hypoxia, but said the Department of Corrections has completed many of the preparations for using the untested execution method.

Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Q. Hamm said in an brief affidavit filed in federal court that the state “cannot carry out an execution by nitrogen hypoxia on September 22.”

The filing came after a federal judge ordered the state to disclose by tonight whether it was ready to use the new execution method.

Hamm said the state is ready to use lethal injection to put an inmate to death next week.

Nitrogen hypoxia would force an inmate to breathe only nitrogen. Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi have authorized the use of nitrogen hypoxia, but it has never been used to carry out a death sentence.

“The protocol for carrying out executions by this method is not yet complete. Once the nitrogen hypoxia protocol is complete, ADOC personnel will need sufficient time to be thoroughly trained before an execution can be conducted using this method,” the prison system said. The statement did not give a timeframe for completing the protocol.

Alan Miller, who was convicted of killing three men in a 1999 workplace shooting in Shelby County, is scheduled to be put to death on Sept. 22. Miller is seeking to block his scheduled execution by lethal injection, claiming prison staff lost paperwork he returned in 2018 choosing nitrogen hypoxia as his execution method.

The judge has not yet ruled on Miller’s request.

Alabama lawmakers in 2018 approved legislation that authorized nitrogen hypoxia as an alternate execution method, although lethal injection would remain the primary method for carrying out death sentences. State law gave inmates a brief window to select nitrogen as their execution method. A number of inmates selected nitrogen.

Miller testified Monday that he is scared of needles so he signed a form selecting nitrogen hypoxia as his execution method. He said he left the form in his cell door tray for an prison officer to pick up. The state said there is no evidence to corroborate his claim.

Miller, a delivery truck driver, was convicted in the 1999 workplace shootings that killed Lee Holdbrooks, Scott Yancy and Terry Jarvis. Miller shot Holdbrooks and Yancy at one business and then drove to another location to shoot Jarvis, evidence showed.

A defense psychiatrist said Miller suffered from severe mental illness but his condition wasn’t bad enough to use as a basis for an insanity defense under state law.

(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

 

Categories: Montgomery Metro, News, Statewide