Supreme Court Greenlights Alabama to Carry Out Execution

In a 5-4 decision on Thursday, a divided US Supreme Court ruled that Alabama can proceed with the execution of an inmate convicted in 1999, vacating the previous injunction that had prevented the lethal injection of Alan Miller going forward.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the US District Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. previously on Tuesday issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state from killing Miller by any means other than nitrogen hypoxia.

Miller, who was a delivery truck driver, received a death sentence after he was convicted of killing three coworkers in a 1999 workplace rampage. Although the psychiatrist hired by his lawyers found him suffering from severe mental illness, he also said his condition cannot be used as a basis for an insanity defense under state law since it wasn’t bad enough.

Miller’s attorneys claimed that they’d submitted paperwork requesting an alternative execution method but that the state of Alabama has lost it. Miller allegedly requested four years ago nitrogen hypoxia as his execution method, putting the paperwork in a slot in his cell door at the Holman Correctional Facility so a prison worker can collect it.

The Appeals Court and Judge Huffaker found that even though the State says that it does not have any physical record of the request, it was “substantially likely” that Miller submitted a timely election form.

Nitrogen hypoxia is a proposed execution method authorized in three states, including in Alabama since 2018, but the state has never done so and the Alabama prison system has not finalized procedures for using the method to carry out a death sentence. No state so far has attempted to put an inmate to death by the untested method.

With nitrogen hypoxia, death would be caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, depriving him of the oxygen needed for living.

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