Execution Delayed As State Tries New Method Of Killing

(PresidentialHill.com)- A planned execution in Alabama has been put on hold by a federal judge who ruled earlier this week that only one method may be used in the execution — the one requested by the man set to die.

Alan Miller was scheduled to be executed in Alabama on Thursday, but that will be put on hold for now while a court battle plays out.

A preliminary injunction on the execution was put in place by U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. earlier this week. That puts a halt on the state’s plan to execute Miller by lethal injection.

Miller requested that his execution be carried out using nitrogen hypoxia. But, Alabama said they aren’t ready to use that method yet, and it’s reported to be a procedure that hasn’t been fully tested.

In his ruling, Huffaker wrote:

“Miller will likely suffer irreparable injury if an injunction does not issue because he will be deprived of the ability to die by the method he chose and instead will be forced to die by a method he sought to avoid and which he asserts will be painful.”

The injury that the judge reference is “the loss of his ‘final dignity’ — to choose how he will die.”

In 1999, Miller was convicted of killing three people in a shooting that happened at his place of work. He was subsequently sentenced to be executed.

A law in Alabama says that prisoners on death row have the right to choose the method by which they die. Miller chose nitrogen hypoxia — a method that Alabama has approved as an alternative method of execution. Two states in addition to Alabama have also approved this method, yet none of the three have tried to use it in practice yet.

The state says that the system for nitrogen hypoxia executions was put in place last year. However, Alabama officials haven’t as of yet released any protocols for how it should be used.

Because of this, they say they aren’t ready to use it yet, which is why they wanted to execute Miller by lethal injection.

Steve Marshall, the attorney general for Alabama, has already said that he will appeal the judge’s decision.

Miller has testified that he returned his state form that said he chose nitrogen hypoxia as his method of execution on the day the form was handed to him. Prison officials in the state, though, contend they don’t have any record that the prisoner returned that form. They argue that Miller is just trying to delay his execution with this court battle.

However, the only opinion that matters in the case — that of Judge Huffaker — believed him. As he wrote in his opinion:

“It is substantially likely that Miller timely elected nitrogen hypoxia.”

The judge added that Alabama might have the ability to use this method of execution in the near future. He wrote:

“From all that appears, the state intends to announce its readiness to conduct executions by nitrogen hypoxia in the upcoming weeks.”