Nitrogen hypoxia was the method of execution chosen by Alan Eugene Miller, leading to a legal debate that lasted just hours before his death sentence expired. The lawsuit reached the US Supreme Court.
Miller is scheduled to be executed tonight, September 22, 2022, following a decision by the US Supreme Court shortly before midnight. Miller had asked to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia, which the state would not allow, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
Miller was found guilty of the 1999 murders of Christopher Yancy, Lee Holdbrooks and Terry Jarvis, according to WTRF.
Here’s what you need to know:
In March 2018, Oklahoma became the first state to use nitrogen hypoxia executions, also known as death by nitrogen inhalation, according to Oklahoma Watch. The article describes in detail how nitrogen hypoxia is carried out if everything goes according to plan.
Oklahoma Watch reported:
The method of execution quickly became the subject of controversy, with questions over how the convicted inmates would be forced to inhale the deadly gas, what would happen if they resisted or held their breath, and how others in the area would be protected from the noxious fumes could , according to Oklahoma Watch.
Miller, 57, said he sought execution by nitrogen hypoxia in 2018 over fear of needles, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. He has professional experience handling chemicals, he said, according to the newspaper. However, state officials said they had no record of Miller choosing to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. According to the newspaper, he accused state officials of losing the paperwork he allegedly submitted through prison staff.
The issue became a legal debate after the state said it would not execute Miller with nitrogen hypoxia.
“Miller’s execution by lethal injection was blocked by a federal court injunction earlier this week, but state attorneys successfully appealed the case to the US Supreme Court, which failed to provide written reasons for its decision to allow the execution. ‘ WTRF reports.
Alabama approved the method of execution in 2018, but it has not been used. In Miller’s case, the Alabama Department of Corrections said it was unwilling to use the untried method, according to NPR.
Nitrogen is safe to breathe when mixed with appropriate amounts of oxygen, and makes up about 78% of the air we breathe, according to NPR. According to NPR, breathing becomes difficult when oxygen levels drop below 16%. Once oxygen levels drop between 4 and 6%, a person can fall into a coma within 40 seconds.
CONTINUE READING: Lisa Montgomery’s final words before execution: ‘No’