Alabama Sets Date for 2nd Execution by Nitrogen Gas

Alan Eugene Miller is suing to block the execution, now scheduled for September
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 23, 2024 9:59 AM CST
Updated May 9, 2024 12:19 PM CDT
Alabama Prepares for 2nd Execution by Nitrogen Gas
Officials escort murder suspect Alan Eugene Miller away from the Pelham City Jail in Alabama, Aug. 5, 1999.   (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)
UPDATE May 9, 2024 12:19 PM CDT

Alabama death row inmate Alan Eugene Miller is now scheduled to become the second person in the US executed by nitrogen gas, reports CBS News. Gov. Kay Ivey set the date for Sept. 26, per the AP. The governor's action comes a week after the Alabama Supreme Court authorized the execution. Miller has an ongoing federal lawsuit challenging the execution method as a violation of the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Feb 23, 2024 9:59 AM CST

A month after carrying out the world's first execution using nitrogen gas, Alabama wants a repeat. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall's office asked the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to set an execution date for 59-year-old Alan Eugene Miller, who was convicted of killing three people during a pair of 1999 workplace shootings in suburban Birmingham. "The State of Alabama is prepared to carry out the execution of Miller's sentence by means of nitrogen hypoxia," the attorney general's office wrote, per the AP, adding that Miller has been on death row since 2000 and that it is time to carry out his sentence.

The execution date request comes as the state and anti-death penalty advocates continue to present opposing views of what happened during the state's first execution using nitrogen. Kenneth Smith shook and convulsed in seizure-like movements for several minutes on the death chamber gurney as he was put to death Jan. 25. Marshall maintained that the execution was "textbook" and said the state will seek to carry out more death sentences using nitrogen gas. "As of last night, nitrogen hypoxia as a means of execution is no longer an untested method. It is a proven one," Marshall said the morning after Smith's execution, extending an offer of help to other states considering the method.

story continues below

But a lawsuit filed by another death row inmate seeking to block the use of nitrogen said witness accounts show that Smith's execution was a botched "human experiment" showing "nitrogen gas asphyxiation is neither quick nor painless, but agonizing and painful." Like Smith, Miller survived a previous lethal injection attempt. The state attempted to execute Miller by lethal injection in September 2022. The execution was called off after officials were unable to get an intravenous line connected to the 351-pound prisoner's veins. After that attempt, the state struck an agreement with Miller's lawyers that it would never again seek to execute Miller by lethal injection and that any attempt to execute him in the future would be done with nitrogen gas. Miller, a delivery truck driver, was convicted of killing Terry Jarvis, Lee Holdbrooks, and Scott Yancy in workplace shootings. (More execution stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.