Inmate asks court to block second nitrogen execution in Alabama

Jun 21, 2024, 12:09 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Lawyers for an Alabama inmate on Friday asked a judge to block the nation’s second scheduled execution using nitrogen gas, arguing the first was a “horrific scene” that violates the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Alan Eugene Miller, who survived a 2022 lethal injection attempt, is scheduled to be executed on Sept. 26 in Alabama through the new method. His attorneys argued the first nitrogen execution in January left Kenneth Smith shaking and convulsing on a gurney for several minutes as he was put to death.

“The execution was a disaster. Multiple eyewitnesses reported a horrific scene, where Mr. Smith writhed on the gurney and foamed at the mouth. Instead of examining potential deficiencies with their protocol, the State has shrouded it in secrecy,” his attorneys said.

Miller’s attorneys asked a federal judge for a preliminary injunction to stop the execution from going forward, or to at least require the state change the protocol. Alabama uses an industrial-type gas mask to force an inmate to breathe pure nitrogen, depriving him or her of the oxygen needed to maintain bodily functions.

Miller was convicted of capital murder for killing three men during a 1999 workplace shooting. Prosecutors said Miller, a delivery truck driver, killed coworkers Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy at a business in suburban Birmingham and then drove off to shoot former supervisor Terry Jarvis at a business where Miller had previously worked.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall in January maintained Smith’s execution was “textbook” and said the state will seek to carry out more death sentences using nitrogen gas. Lethal injection, however, remains the state’s primary execution method.

Miller had previously argued nitrogen gas should be his execution method. Miller was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection in 2022, but the state called off the execution after being unable to connect an IV line to the 351-pound inmate. The state agreed to never try again to execute Miller by lethal injection and that any execution would be carried out by nitrogen gas. At the time, the state had not developed a protocol for using nitrogen gas.

In the Friday court filing, attorneys for Miller argued the nitrogen protocol did not deliver the quick death the state promised the courts it would. They argued Smith instead writhed “in violent pain for several excruciating minutes.”

National News

Sen. Bob Menendez...


Guilty: U.S. Senator Bob Menendez convicted on all counts

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez was convicted on Tuesday on all counts at his corruption trial including accepting bribes of gold and cash.

12 minutes ago

Associated Press

Self-exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui convicted of defrauding followers after fleeing to US

NEW YORK (AP) — Guo Wengui, a self-exiled Chinese business tycoon whose criticism of the Communist Party won him legions of online followers and powerful friends in the American conservative movement, was convicted by a U.S. jury Tuesday of engaging in a massive multiyear fraud that ripped off some of his most devoted fans. Once […]

13 minutes ago

FILE - This combo image shows Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, left, N...

Associated Press

Kamala Harris and JD Vance have yet to agree on terms for a VP debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris and Sen. JD Vance, the new Republican vice presidential nominee, have yet to agree on terms to participate in a debate, according to three people familiar with the matter. Harris has agreed to a debate on CBS News on either July 23 or Aug. 13. Two months ago, […]

13 minutes ago

Associated Press

2nd fraternity booted from the University of Virginia after hazing investigation

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The University of Virginia has terminated a second campus fraternity after an investigation found stomach-turning hazing incidents earlier this year. The Theta Chi fraternity is the second at U.Va. to have its fraternity agreement terminated. Pi Kappa Alpha was terminated earlier this year. Two other fraternities, Sigma Alpha Mu and Pi […]

21 minutes ago

Signs are displayed outside the town hall, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Plainfield, Vt., a community t...

Associated Press

Vermont governor urges residents to report flood damage to the state for FEMA determination

Vermont’s governor on Tuesday urged residents to report any damage from last week’s flooding to the state, even if they plan to do repairs themselves, so that counties can meet the threshold for individual federal assistance. The flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Beryl damaged homes, knocked out bridges, caused landslides and washed out roads, […]

32 minutes ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump watches during the Republican Natio...

Associated Press

A Trump-owned company sells $299 sneakers with an image of his bloodied face after rally shooting

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A company is now selling $299 sneakers showing an image of Donald Trump with streaks of blood on his cheek and pumping his fist in the air after he was the target of an assassination attempt in Pennsylvania. The white high tops are being sold as “FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT High-Tops” for $299 […]

34 minutes ago

Inmate asks court to block second nitrogen execution in Alabama