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Judge blocks execution of Alabama inmate who requested different method of death

Miller was convicted for killing three people in 1999.

September 20, 2022 3:37pm

Updated: September 20, 2022 3:53pm

A federal judge on Tuesday halted the execution of Alabama death row inmate Alan Eugene Miller, asserting he had a right to choose his method of execution.

US District Judge Austin Huffaker Jr. ruled that, since Miller had requested to die by nitrogen hypoxia, the state could not execute him by any other method, according to CNN.

Miller, he wrote, would suffer "irreparable injury... 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."

The state had planned to execute Miller via lethal injection. Nitrogen hypoxia is an untested, never-before-used execution method by which the target suffocates via the gradual replacement of oxygen in the air with pure nitrogen, the outlet reported. The state of Alabama asserted that Miller never made that request.

Alabama may not execute Miller "by any method other than nitrogen hypoxia until further order from the court," the judge determined. The state is currently preparing facilities and personnel to perform executions via this method. 

"Once the nitrogen hypoxia protocol is complete, (department) personnel will need sufficient time to be thoroughly trained before an execution can be conducted using this method," the Alabama Department of Corrections told CNN.

Miller was convicted of killing three people in 1999.

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