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Alabama pushes to use controversial nitrogen gas method in second execution

Alabama plans to use nitrogen gas to execute a second inmate, a move a month after the state executed its first death using the controversial new method. It was done later.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office asked the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to set an execution date for Alan Eugene Miller. The state announced that Miller’s execution would be carried out using nitrogen. Miller, now 59, was convicted of killing three people in two workplace shootings outside Birmingham in 1999.

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“The State of Alabama is prepared to execute Mr. Miller’s sentence by nitrogen hypoxia,” the attorney general’s office wrote, adding that Mr. Miller has been on death row since 2000 and the time has come to carry out his sentence.

Lawyers on Mr. Miller’s list did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

The request for an execution date comes as the state and advocates continue to offer conflicting views about what happened during the state’s first execution using nitrogen. During his execution on January 25, Kenneth Smith trembled and convulsed on a stretcher in his death chamber for several minutes in what appeared to be a seizure.

Marshall argued that the executions were “textbook” and said the state would work to carry out more death sentences using nitrogen gas.

Officials escort murder suspect Alan Eugene Miller from the Pelham City Jail, Alabama, on August 5, 1999. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office asked the Alabama Supreme Court on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, to set an execution date for Miller. He becomes the second inmate in Alabama to be executed using nitrogen gas. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

“As of last night, execution by nitrogen hypoxia is no longer an untested method. It is a proven method,” Marshall said the morning after Smith’s execution, adding that other states are considering the method. We have expanded our offer of support.

But a lawsuit filed by another death row inmate seeking to block the use of nitrogen said witness testimony showed Smith’s execution was a “human experiment” gone awry.

“Results from the first human experiment have been released, demonstrating that nitrogen gas asphyxiation is neither instant nor painless, but rather painful and painful,” the lawsuit states.

Like Smith, Miller also survived a previous lethal injection attempt. The state attempted to execute Miller in September 2022, but the execution was halted after authorities were unable to connect an intravenous line to the 351-pound (159 kilogram) prisoner’s vein. After this attempt, the state reached an agreement with Mr. Miller’s lawyers that it would never attempt to execute him by lethal injection again and that any future attempts to execute him would be done using nitrogen gas. did.

During an aborted lethal injection attempt in 2022, Miller said prison staff stabbed him with needles for more than an hour as they tried to find a vein, and at one point he was tied to a stretcher and hung vertically. It is said that it was left alone.

Miller, a delivery truck driver, was convicted in the workplace shootings of Lee Holdbrooks, Scott Yancey and Terry Jarvis. Prosecutors said Miller killed Holdbrooks and Yancey at one store, then drove to another location and shot Jarvis. Each man was shot multiple times.

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According to testimony, Miller was delusional and believed the men were spreading rumors about her. After 20 minutes of deliberation, the jury found Miller guilty and the judge sentenced him to death.

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