Alan Eugene Miller was set to be executed tonight after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed execution by lethal injection to proceed September 22, 2022. The decision came less than three hours before a midnight deadline, but just a few minutes before midnight, the execution was delayed again, according to local news reports. Miller had asked to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia, a request the state would not accommodate, according to local news outlets.
The delay occurred because of “issues accessing Miller’s veins,” CBS 42 reporter Lee Hedgepeth wrote on Twitter from a press conference. Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm addressed the media briefly outside the prison at about 12:30 a.m. An ambulance was also seen leaving the prison, reporters wrote on Twitter from the scene.
“Miller is alive, back in his cell. The state had issues establishing IV access with Miller, per ADOC commissioner,” Montgomery Advertiser reporter Evan Mealins wrote on Twitter.
Miller was sentenced to death for the 1999 murders of Christopher Yancy, Lee Holdbrooks and Terry Jarvis, according to WTRF. Read about Miller’s last meal and final hours leading up to the delay here.
The dramatic turn of events started with Miller’s request to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia. The Alabama Department of Corrections said a week before the scheduled execution date that it would not use the method because it was untried, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. A lower court ruled the state could only execute Miller using his chosen execution method.
“At 9:20 p.m., prison officials said they’d been given the go-ahead by the state Attorney General’s Office to begin proceedings,” the Montgomery Advertiser reported. “Media, family members who were off-site, and attorneys were expected to be brought to the death chamber of Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, to witness the execution.”
He has been on death row at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, according to WTRF.
Here’s what you need to know:
Miller’s Execution Was the Subject of Debate That Continued Until a Midnight Deadline
Miller, 57, says he requested to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia in 2018 because of a fear of needles, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. He had employment experience working with chemicals, he said, according to the newspaper. However, state officials said they had no record Miller made the election to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. He accused state officials of losing the paperwork he said he submitted through prison staff, according to the newspaper.
The subject became a matter of legal debate after the state said it would not execute Miller with nitrogen hypoxia. Read more about the controversial execution method here.
“Miller’s execution by lethal injection had been blocked by a federal court injunction earlier this week, but lawyers for the state successfully appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which provided no written reasons for its decision to allow the execution to move forward,” WTRF reported.
Miller has been in prison at Holman on death row for more than 22 years, according to his inmate record from the Alabama Department of Corrections. He is kept in close custody, the DOC reported.
Here is his inmate record:
Miller was sent to Holman, the prison that houses the state’s death row, in 2000. He was sent from the committing county of Shelby, his inmate record says.
‘What’s the Emergency? Mr. Miller Isn’t Going Anywhere,’ His Lawyers Argued as the Deadline Drew Closer
Miller’s lawyers filed a response to the state’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court just four hours before Miller’s death warrant was set to expire, according to WTRF. His lawyers argued the U.S. Supreme court should not vacate the lower court’s ruling. His lawyers argued there should be no rush to execute Miller, according to WTRF.
“What is the emergency? The State of Alabama wants to proceed…tonight,” his lawyer’s wrote, according to WTRF. “Mr. Miller is not going anywhere, and neither is the Alabama Department of Corrections.”
Just before 9:30 p.m., the state attorney general’s office told the Alabama Department of Corrections it could proceed with the execution, according to WTRF.
“It’s a go,” a spokesperson told the news outlet.
In the minutes leading up to midnight, witnesses were transported to the prison for the execution. But reporters who were on the witness list said there had been another delay.
“NEW: We are back on the [van.] We were never let into the prison,” Montgomery Advertiser Reporter Evan Mealins wrote on Twitter at 11:46 p.m. “State may have abandoned the execution but we are waiting for confirmation.”