Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm told reporters early Friday morning that “accessing the veins was taking a little bit longer than we anticipated” and the state did not have sufficient time to get the execution underway by a midnight deadline.
“Due to time constraints resulting from the lateness of the court proceedings, the execution was called off once it was determined the condemned inmate’s veins could not be accessed in accordance with our protocol before the expiration of the death warrant,” Hamm said.
This is at least the third time Alabama has acknowledged problems with venous access during a lethal injection. The state's July execution of Joe Nathan James took more than three hours to get underway. Alabama called off the 2018 execution of Doyle Hamm after being unable to establish an intravenous line.
“The Alabama Department of Corrections verges somewhere between malpractice and butchery,” said Bernard Harcourt, a lawyer who represented Doyle Hamm. “What it demonstrates is we really shouldn’t be given this incompetent bureaucrats the power over life and death.”
Miller’s execution was called off after a legal fight on whether the state lost Miller’s paperwork requesting a different execution method. When Alabama authorized nitrogen hypoxia as an execution method, state law gave inmates a brief window to request it.
Miller testified at an earlier court hearing that he wanted nitrogen because he dislikes needles and medical staff often have trouble finding a blood vessel to draw blood.
This story was corrected to show Alabama’s last execution was in July, and corrects the name of the prisoner from Arthur to Alan Miller.