Alan Eugene Miller: Alabama death row inmate who hates needles likely to be first person to be executed with nitrogen gas

Alan Eugene Miller was a delivery truck driver, and was convicted in the 1999 workplace shootings that killed Lee Holdbrooks, Scott Yancy and Terry Jarvis

Alan Eugene Miller: Alabama death row inmate who hates needles likely to be first person to be executed with nitrogen gas
Alan Eugene Miller is reportedly trying to block his execution at Holman Prison (wvtm13/video screenshot)
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HOLMAN, WEST VIRGINIA: Alabama could use a new method to carry out a death sentence later in September, a state attorney told a federal judge. The method, called nitrogen hypoxia, will be used for the first time to carry out an execution. James Houts, a deputy state attorney general, told US District Judge R Austin Huffaker Jr, that is it "very likely" that Alan Eugene Miller will be executed using this method. His execution is currently set for September 22 by lethal injection.

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Houts said that the final decision on whether or not the method will be used will be made by Corrections Commissioner John Hamm. He also claimed that litigation is likely. Miller was a delivery truck driver, and was convicted in the workplace shootings that killed Lee Holdbrooks, Scott Yancy and Terry Jarvis in 1999. According to prosecutors, Miller murdered Holdbrooks and Yancy at one business. He then drove to another location to shoot Jarvis dead. Each victim was shot several times.

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Jurors convicted Miller after 20 minutes of deliberation. They eventually recommended a death sentence, which was imposed by a judge. Testimony suggested Miller was delusional. He believed the victims were spreading rumors about him, such as he was gay. A defense psychiatrist found that Miller suffered from severe mental illness. However, he concluded that Miller's condition was not bad enough to use as a basis for an insanity defense, the Daily Mail reported.  

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Alabama's primary execution method is lethal injection. However, in 2018, the state approved the untried method called nitrogen hypoxia as an alternative. Inmates were given some time in which to designate hypoxia as their preferred method of execution. Miller said in the court how he disliked needles and that nitrogen gas seemed better than lethal injection. "I did not want to be stabbed with a needle," Miller said, CBS news reported.

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What is nitrogen hypoxia?

In a nitrogen hypoxia execution, the prisoner would breathe pure nitrogen, which would deprive their body of oxygen and cause asphyxiation. Proponents argue that this method is a more humane method of executing a person. 

“In a very real sense, execution by nitrogen hypoxia is experimental,” DPIC Executive Director Robert Dunham had told Newsweek in the past. “It has never been done before and no one has any idea whether it is going to work the way its proponents say it will. And there is no way to test it because it is completely unethical to experimentally kill someone against their will.”

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Alabama has yet to develop a system for using nitrogen to carry out executions. Therefore, the state is not setting execution dates for inmates who choose this method. Miller had to sign a sworn statement saying he had given the form to a corrections officer. "I gave my signed form to the correctional officer who was collecting the forms," the affidavit stated. Miller is reportedly trying to block his execution at Holman Prison.

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