The state is not allowed to proceed with its scheduled lethal injection of a convicted murderer this week, a federal judge ruled Monday.
Alan Eugene Miller, 57, is on death row for the 1999 triple murder in a Shelby County workplace rampage.
Miller’s attorneys filed suit seeking to block the inmate’s scheduled Sept. 22 execution, claiming the state lost his paperwork requesting an alternative method of execution.
The convicted murderer desires to be put to death via nitrogen hypoxia, an untried method that the state was preparing to use earlier this month. State law, passed in 2018, allows a prisoner on death row to choose their preferred method of death.
The method would cause asphyxiation by the prisoner breathing pure nitrogen to replace the oxygen in his body until pronounced dead.
“I did not want to be stabbed with a needle,” Miller said in testimony.
In court proceedings, U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker, Jr. sought clarity from the state regarding its readiness for its first use nitrogen hypoxia. Last week, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said the state was not prepared to use the method.
Huffaker issued a preliminary injunction Monday to block the state from carrying out Miller’s sentence via lethal injection, according to ABC News.
“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,” Huffaker wrote, according to the outlet.
Huffaker added that the injury will be, “the loss of his ‘final dignity’— to choose how he will die.” While admitting that the inmate could possibly be lying about the state losing his paperwork, the judge wrote, “It is substantially likely that Miller timely elected nitrogen hypoxia.”
Huffaker did note, however, that Alabama “intends to announce its readiness to conduct executions by nitrogen hypoxia in the upcoming weeks.”
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall will appeal the ruling, ABC News reported.
Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL