The execution by lethal injection of Alan Eugene Miller by the state of Alabama has been halted after the inmate’s veins couldn’t be accessed within protocol time restrictions.
“Due to the time constraints resulting in the lateness of the court proceedings, the execution was called off once it was determined the condemned’s veins could not be accessed in accordance with our protocol before the expiration of the death warrant,” John Hamm, the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, told the press, according to al.com.
Miller was sentenced to death after a shooting in Shelby County on 5 August 1999 that lead to the deaths of three men.
His execution was halted at around 11.30pm on Thursday night. The state’s death warrant expired at midnight.
The 57-year-old was sent back to his cell on death row.
Mr Hamm said the families of the victims in the shooting had been made aware of the execution halt.
Shortly after 9pm, the US Supreme Court ruled that the state of Alabama had almost three hours to carry out the execution before the expiration of the death warrant.
According to Mr Hamm, the staff began trying to determine the outline of Miller’s veins to administer the lethal injection, but the commissioner said he was unsure how much time the staff spent attempting to find a vein.
“I’m not sure… I wasn’t looking at that. We were more focused on the time that the court, the Supreme Court, sent their order. Before we start accessing veins, we have other things we have to do that take time,” Mr Hamm said, according to al.com.
“There are several things that we have to do before we even start accessing the veins. And that was taking a little bit longer than we anticipated,” he added when pressed by the members of the media.
Alabama’s Republican Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement that “in Alabama, we are committed to law and order and upholding justice. Despite the circumstances that led to the cancellation of this execution, nothing will change the fact that a jury heard the evidence of this case and made a decision”.
“It does not change the fact that Mr Miller never disputed his crimes. And it does not change the fact that three families still grieve,” she added. “We all know full well that Michael Holdbrooks, Terry Lee Jarvis and Christopher Scott Yancey did not choose to die by bullets to the chest. Tonight, my prayers are with the victims’ families and loved ones as they are forced to continue reliving the pain of their loss.”