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23rd Sep 2022

Killer on death row with fear of needles has execution abandoned

Steve Hopkins

Alan Eugene Miller had requested to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia due to a fear of needles

A death row killer who claimed a fear of needles has not been executed after officials ran out of time to complete it.

The go-ahead was given by the Supreme Court on Thursday evening to execute Alan Eugene Miller in an 11th hour reversal, but despite efforts to carry out the procedure it could not be done before the death warrant expired at midnight.

Alabama’s prisons commissioner has reportedly said that the execution didn’t go ahead over issues in finding Miller’s veins.

Media was driven to the the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, and called in for the execution but it was then called off with just minutes to spare.

Miller had requested to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia due to the fear of needles, known as Trypanophobia, but because the method was not available in the state, a judge blocked the execution from taking place Thursday.

However, the Supreme Court later said the execution could go ahead with prison officials saying they had been given the go-ahead at 9.20pm to commence the procedure.

Miller, a former delivery driver, was convicted of killing three men in a workplace shooting, in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1999, and he was sentenced to death.

Nitrogen hypoxia was approved in Alabama in 2018 as a method of execution but it had yet to be tried out.

Alabama Department of Corrections last week said that it was not yet ready to use the untried method, it is reported.

Miller had earlier said that he had submitted a form stating his choice of execution and believes that state officials, who deny having seen it, had lost the paper.

Last Tuesday, US District Judge R. Austin Huffaker issued a preliminary injunction blocking Alabama from putting Miller to death due to the inmate’s request to be killed by Nitrogen hypoxia.

The judge wrote: “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.”

He added that the injury will be “the loss of his ‘final dignity’ —to choose how he will die.”

A federal appeals court upheld the stay which was then challenged by Alabama Attorney General’s Office at the Supreme court. The court agreed the procedure could go ahead.

In response to the decision Miller’s lawyers, reported the Montgomery Advertiser, wrote: “The State’s new, Kafkaesque argument in favour of forcing an illegal execution tonight is that the truth of whether Mr Miller timely submitted his nitrogen hypoxia election form does not matter.”

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