Experimental EXECUTION Planned – First Of Its Kind
(UnitedVoice.com) – As recently as 2015, a shortage of lethal injection drugs and questions about the humaneness of lethal drugs put the process of executing a convicted murderer into question. In Oklahoma, one drug used in capital punishment caused several executions to go wrong in 2014. As states looked for alternatives, a few got creative. In South Carolina, they gave death row inmates a choice of dying by electrocution or firing squad. Alabama, Mississippi, and Oklahoma passed laws allowing a new process of death by nitrogen gas they had never used.
On Monday, September 12, Alabama death row inmate Alan Miller petitioned a court to block his execution, scheduled for September 22. He claims in 2018, a corrections officer gave him the option to choose how he would prefer to die. He chose a new method called nitrogen hypoxia. The question before the court wasn’t whether the technique was legal but whether the state was ready to use it safely and the inmate actually preferred it.
Alabama Prepares To Use Nitrogen Hypoxia To Carry Out Death Sentence
In 1999, Miller, a truck driver, was convicted of killing three people in a workplace shooting. A jury sentenced him to death. Testimony during the trial showed that he suffered from a delusional fit. He believed the two men he murdered spread rumors, including stories he was gay. A defense psychiatrist testified that the suspect suffered from severe mental illness but denied it was bad enough that Miller qualified for an insanity plea.
On Monday, Alabama Deputy State Attorney General James Houts told US District Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. that the state would likely use nitrogen hypoxia to perform Miller’s execution. He said Corrections Commissioner John Hamm would ultimately decide whether to use the technique or lethal injection.
Still, a defense attorney said his legal team required more information about the process and wouldn’t agree to its use without reviewing the data. He stated the death row inmate shouldn’t be a test case for a process that no one ever tried.
Miller contends the prison staff lost his 2018 paperwork where he requested to receive the nitrogen gas instead of lethal injection. Now, he’s contesting the execution method, even going so far as to refuse to be fitted for a mask.
How Does the New Method Work?
Officials suggest they would administer nitrogen hypoxia via a mask filtering in 100% nitrogen. The theoretical lack of oxygen would cause a person to pass out and ultimately die.
Some believe the method is a safe alternative to lethal drug injections and addresses inhumanity concerns. Proponents argue nitrogen hypoxia is less prone to failed executions. Still, some say it’s a theory no one has ever tested, and it’s unknown how Alabama would carry out the procedure.
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