Alan Eugene Miller: Alabama death row inmate's execution by lethal injection called off as 'veins couldn't be accessed'
ATMORE, ALABAMA: Alan Eugene Miller, who was previously likely to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia, will now be given the lethal injection as the US Supreme Court said Alabama can proceed with this process. The decision came on Thursday night, September 22, after justices, in a 5-4 decision, vacated an injunction that had prevented the lethal injunction of Alan Miller, 57, going forward as he claimed he chose nitrogen hypoxia as the way to go four years ago. In a surprising turn of events, Miller's execution was called off for the time being as his veins couldn’t be accessed within the protocol turn limit.
Due to time constraints, Miller's execution had to be called off and the Alaba inmate returned to his cell. SCOTUS approved Miller's execution by lethal injection. As reported by Al.com, "Due to the time constraints resulting in the lateness of the court proceedings, the execution was called off once it was determined the condemned’s veins could not be accessed in accordance with our protocol before the expiration of the death warrant." When asked how long the team worked to find his veins, Hamm said, "Im not sure... I wasn’t looking at that. We were more focused on the time that the court, the Supreme Court, sent their order. Before we start accessing veins, we have other things we have to do that take time."
SCOTUS reversed rulings by the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals and a federal judge who argued that the lethal injection should not be used in Miller's execution. This execution comes after weeks of legal battles, but most importantly when Alabama Attorney General’s Office stepped in and asked SCOTUS to overturn a lower court judge’s ruling that effectively stayed the September 22 execution. As per Montgomery Advertiser, the prison officials were given the go-ahead at around 9.20 pm on Thursday. Some parties who will be allowed in the death chambers of Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, are the media, family, and attorneys to witness the execution. The five-justice majority did not provide an opinion on this case but simply overruled the three-judge panel that upheld the previous ruling.
Alan Miller to be executed by lethal injection, orders SCOTUS
Miller, however, has maintained that he chose to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia in 2018 but blamed the state officials for losing the form in which he chose this method as he is scared of needles, hence avoiding the lethal injection. Miller also stated that he chose nitrogen hypoxia as he has experience working with chemicals. This particular method forces the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, depriving them of the oxygen they need to maintain bodily functions. Justices Sonia Sotomayor; Elena Kagan; Amy Comey Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson opposed the decision of Miller to die by lethal injection. The matter was appealed when a lower court issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the state from executing Miller "by any method other than nitrogen hypoxia" until further court order. US District Judge R Austin Huffaker Jr issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday, September 20, blocking any other methods of execution stating that Miller, "submitted a timely election form even though the State says that it does not have any physical record of a form," as per Politico.
In the 43-page appeal, AG Steve Marshall said, "Because nitrogen hypoxia is not currently available as a method of execution in Alabama, the injunction is an effective commutation of Miller’s death sentence. Miller has therefore alleged, at most, that ADOC was insufficiently careful with handling his method-of-execution form. But '[t]he guarantee of due process has never been understood to mean that the State must guarantee duecare on the part of its officials."
Miller, a delivery truck driver, was sentenced to death after killing three men in two workplace shootings in Shelby County in 1999. He killed co-workers in Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy at a business in suburban and then drove off to kill his former supervisor Terry Jarvis at a business where Miller had previously worked. The trial testimony included that Miller believed these men were spreading rumors about him. A hired psychiatrist did include that Miller suffered from severe mental illness but did not let the court use it as a basis for insanity.