A killer narrowly escaped his execution on Death Row due to his veins in a dramatic U-turn after he asserted that he was afraid of needles.
Alan Eugene Miller was sentenced to death in 1999 after killing three people while on shift as a delivery driver in the city of Birmingham, Alabama, US.
The prisoner claimed he requested to be executed using nitrogen gas instead of the lethal injection as he had painful experiences drawing blood in the past – but said the Alabama Department of Corrections lost the paperwork proving he had opted for the alternative method.
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"I did not want to be stabbed with a needle," Miller had previously said in court.
The state said Miller had never asked to be killed with nitrogen, a method that was approved for use in Alabama in 2018 but hasn't yet been tested out, and planned to kill him using the more common lethal injection.
The execution was set to take place on Thursday (September 22) but was halted when Miller's veins could caused complications, the Mirror reports.
On Monday (September 19), US District Judge R. Austin Huffaker took Miller's side and declared that no other method other than nitrogen gas could be used without a court order.
According to reports, the Alabama Department of Corrections said last week that it was not yet ready to use the untried method, meaning the execution was unlikely to go ahead as planned.
Huffaker said: "Miller will likely suffer irreparable injury if an injunction does not issue 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."
He added if the execution went ahead it would be "the loss of his 'final dignity' – to choose how he will die".
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But at the last minute a Supreme Court decision meant the execution could go ahead and prison officials claimed they had been given the all-clear at 9.20pm on the evening of the proposed execution to begin proceedings.
Family, lawyers and media were told to go to the facility to witness the execution in the death chamber.
However in a turn of events, the execution could not go ahead as officials struggled to perform the slaying before the death warrant expired at midnight.
It was stated that difficulties finding Miller's veins complicated proceedings.
In response to the unrealised decision to execute Miller, his lawyers reportedly wrote: "The State’s new, Kafkaesque argument in favour of forcing an illegal execution tonight is that the truth of whether Mr Miller timely submitted his nitrogen hypoxia election form does not matter."
Miller had been convicted of killing three people – Lee Holdbrooks, Scott Yancy and Terry Jarvis.
The slaying took place on August 5, 1999, before a jury recommended in court that Miller be sentenced to death.
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