Doyle Lee Hamm was all set for the lethal injection at an Alabama prison, but the crew behind the execution ran into a problem. The 61-year-old convicted murderer is a previous intravenous drug user and is currently stricken with cancer, making it difficult to find a decent vein that can carry the cocktail that will kill him.
As he was strapped onto the table, prison officials searched everywhere for a proper vessel for the injection and even flipped him onto his stomach and searched his legs. Eventually, they gave up and Hamm's lawyer says his client was left in 'great pain' from medical staff poking and prodding his veins.
Attorney Bernard Harcourt told reporters: "He's in great pain from yesterday evening, physically, from all of the attempts to access his veins in his lower extremities and in his groin."
Harcourt says this shouldn't have been a surprise to prison staff as he filed a motion in court as far back as July last year that a lethal injection would be difficult or close to impossible because of Hamm's lymphoma, hepatitis and prior drug use.
He alleges it took them two hours before the execution was eventually called off, when a normal procedure takes around 20 mins, according to the Sun.
The attorney hasn't held back in his criticism of the incident, writing for Columbia Law: "This went beyond ghoulish justice and cruel and unusual punishment.
"It was torture. It was precisely the kind of torture that the UN Human Rights Rapporteurs had warned about to the Governor of Alabama."
The Commissioner blames last minute appeals for the process taking that long, not searching for suitable veins.
He revealed that it wasn't because of the growing pain being experienced by Hamm that stopped the procedure, but because it was nearing midnight, which is when their warrant for execution expired. He adds: "There are a lot more moving parts in respect to the protocol than simply the medical procedure."
Hamm's lawyer is visiting him today in prison along with a doctor to assess the extent of his injuries.
The 61-year-old was given the death penalty for fatally shooting motel clerk Patrick Cunningham in 1987 during a robbery, where he made off with a measly $410.