Alan Miller's execution to be rescheduled at 'earliest opportunity' says Alabama Gov Kay Ivey
ATMORE, ALABAMA: The state of Alabama halted the execution of a death row prisoner after failing to meet the protocols before the midnight deadline on Thursday, September 22. Alan Eugene Miller, who was convicted of a triple homicide more than 20 years ago, was scheduled to be executed on Thursday.
However, Alabama's Republican Goverbor Kay Ivey released a statement shortly after the deadline had expired, promising to "uphold justice," while a spokesperson from her office reiterated that Miller's execution would be rescheduled at the "earliest opportunity". It was on Friday morning, Sept 23, that Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm first told the press that Miller had been returned to his cell after his execution was halted by prison officials at about 11:30 pm.
The US Supreme court had made the ruling that Miller would be executed by lethal injection, the method he had sought to avoid. "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," Hamm said.
Governor Kay Ivey in her statement said "In Alabama, we are committed to law and order and upholding justice. 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." She continued, "It does not change the fact that Mr. Miller never disputed his crimes. And it does not change the fact that three families still grieve. We all know full well that Michael Holdbrooks, Terry Lee Jarvis and Christopher Scott Yancey did not choose to die by bullets to the chest. Tonight, my prayers are with the victims’ families and loved ones as they are forced to continue reliving the pain of their loss."
Later, a spokesperson from her office made a statement and said it “anticipates that the execution will be reset at the earliest opportunity.” Ivey also revealed that the Correction Commissioner has informed Miller’s family members about the cancelation of his execution. The United States Supreme Court justices in a 5-4 decision ruled on the execution of Miller just 3 hours before the process began and lifted an injunction — issued by a federal judge and left in place by the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals — that had blocked Miller's execution from going forward.
US District Judge R Austin Huffaker Jr issued an injunction on Tuesday, September 20, restricting the state from taking Miller’s life from any other means than nitrogen hypoxia after as it was "substantially likely" that Miller "submitted a timely election form even though the State says that it does not have any physical record of a form." The injunction was issued by the judge after Miller’s attorney claimed that the state lost the form requesting his execution be carried out using the method of Nitrogen Hypoxia, a method legally available to him but never before used in the United States.
Miller testified that he turned in paperwork four years ago selecting nitrogen hypoxia as his execution method, putting the documents in a slot in his cell door at the Holman Correctional Facility for a prison worker to collect. Miller, a former truck driver was sentenced to death back in 2000 after he killed co-workers Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy at a business in suburban Birmingham. After killing the two, Miller then rushed to murder his former supervisor Terry Jarvis. Each man was shot multiple times and Miller was captured after a highway chase.
The court documents revealed that Miller was suffering from mental illness but the psychiatrist hired by the defense revealed that Miller's condition wasn't bad enough to use as a basis for an insanity defense under state law. An Alabama jury took 20 minutes to convict, in a 10 to 2 vote, in July 2000 and decided that put Miller should be put to death. Two appeals of the verdict were denied.