Miller testified that he handed over documents four years ago choosing nitrogen hypoxia as his method of execution, placing it through a slot in his cell door at Holman Correctional Facility so that a prison employee can get it back.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. issued a preliminary injunction restraining the state from killing Miller by any means other than nitrogen hypoxia, after finding it “essentially probable” that Miller “subjected a timely election form even though the state says it has no physical record of a form.
Thursday night’s Supreme Court ruling overturned that injunction at the state’s request.
Although Alabama allowed nitrogen hypoxia as a method of execution, it never did, and the prison system has not finalized procedures for using it to carry out a death sentence.
Miller was visited by family members and a lawyer on Thursday as he waited to see if his execution would go ahead. He was given a food platter that included meatloaf, cart steak, macaroni and fries, the prison system said.
Nitrogen hypoxia is a proposed method of execution in which death would be caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, thereby depriving them of the oxygen needed to maintain bodily functions. It is authorized as a method of execution in three states, but no state has attempted to put an inmate to death by the untested method. Alabama officials told the judge they were working to finalize the protocol.
When Alabama approved nitrogen hypoxia as a method of execution in 2018, state law gave inmates a brief window to designate it as their method of execution.
“Just because the state is not yet ready to execute anyone by nitrogen hypoxia does not mean that it will harm the state or the public to honor the timely election of hypoxia to the Nitrogen by Miller. In contrast, if an injunction is not issued, Miller will be irrevocably deprived of his choice as to how he dies – a choice the Alabama legislature has granted him,” Huffaker wrote.
Prosecutors said Miller, a delivery truck driver, killed his colleagues Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy at a business in the Birmingham suburbs, then left to shoot former supervisor Terry Jarvis at a business where Miller worked previously. Each man was shot multiple times, and Miller was captured after a freeway chase.
Testimony at trial indicated that Miller believed the men were spreading rumors about him, including that he was gay. A psychiatrist hired by the defense found that Miller suffered from a serious mental illness, but also said that Miller’s condition was not serious enough to form the basis of an insanity defense under the law of the state. ‘State.