We could learn soon if untried execution method will be used on AL death row inmate

Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 10:01 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - We could find out on September 15 if nitrogen hypoxia will be used to put Alan Eugene Miller to death. A spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Corrections tells WBRC, they’ll have a statement out Thursday. As it stands now, the state plans to execute Miller by lethal injection on September 22.

The state may become the first in the country to use nitrogen hypoxia, an untried method to carry out Miller’s execution.

We’re told nitrogen hypoxia is supposed to cause death by replacing oxygen with nitrogen. It’s been authorized by Alabama and two other states but never used.

We spoke with Robert Dunham with the Death Penalty Information Center. He’s also a lawyer and teaches death penalty law. Dunham has logistical concerns with using nitrogen hypoxia. He says no state has released protocols on how the process works. Dunham tells us it may or may not work.

“All of it suggests that this is not a time to rush into it. There is no valid state interest in rushing to carry out this execution next week using nitrogen hypoxia before there’s a chance to examine the protocol, check the safety of it and ensure that the state is able to carry it out in a competent way,” Dunham said.

Dunham says there could be safety concerns especially if the nitrogen which is colorless and odorless leaks out of a mask that could be used on Miller. It could put the execution team at risk according to Dunham.

Miller is being put to the death for the 1999 workplace shooting that killed Lee Holdbrooks, Scott Yancy and Terry Jarvis.

The Death Penalty Information Center is a national non-profit organization serving the media and the public with analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment. You can find out more about it here.


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