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Alabama court authorizes second nitrogen execution

Anti-death penalty activists place signs along the road heading to Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala., ahead of the scheduled execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. The state plans to put Smith to death with nitrogen gas, the first time the new method has been used in the United States. (AP Photo/Kim Chandler)
Kim Chandler/AP
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AP
Anti-death penalty activists place signs along the road heading to Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala., ahead of the scheduled execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. The state plans to put Smith to death with nitrogen gas, the first time the new method has been used in the United States. (AP Photo/Kim Chandler)

Alabama has authorized the execution of a second inmate by nitrogen gas, months after the state became the first state to put a person to death with the previously untested method.

The Alabama Supreme Court granted the state attorney general's request for an execution date for Alan Eugene Miller, who survived a 2022 lethal injection attempt. The state's governor will set the exact date of the execution for Miller, who was convicted of killing three men during a 1999 workplace shooting.

The Alabama attorney general's office, in a February court filing seeking the execution date for Miller, said the execution would be carried out by nitrogen gas.

Alabama in January used nitrogen gas to execute Kenneth Smith. Smith shook and convulsed in seizure-like movements for several minutes on the death chamber gurney as he was put to death on January 25th.

Miller has an ongoing federal lawsuit challenging the execution method as a violation of the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment, citing witness descriptions of Smith's death.

"Rather than address these failures, the State of Alabama has attempted to maintain secrecy and avoid public scrutiny, in part by misrepresenting what happened in this botched execution," the lawyers wrote. It is expected that his attorneys will ask the federal judge to block the execution from going forward.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall maintained that the execution was "textbook" and said the state will seek to carry out more death sentences using nitrogen gas.

"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 in the February motion seeking the execution authorization. State attorneys added that Miller has been on death row since 2000 and that it is time to carry out his sentence.

An attorney listed for Miller did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the lawsuit. A spokesman for Marshall confirmed the court authorized the execution but did not immediately comment.

Miller, a delivery truck driver, was convicted of killing Terry Jarvis, Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy in the workplace shooting.

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