US state to try never-before-used method of execution in grim world first
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A US state could be the first to try a previously unused method of execution.
Alan Eugene Miller, a felon on death row in Alabama, may be the first to experience the lethal death sentence by nitrogen hypoxia.
Nitrogen hypoxia induces death by replacing oxygen in the body with nitrogen.
This causes a state of asphyxiation, which is designed to turn fatal.
The method was approved in 2018 but has not yet been used.
The new method will be an alternative to lethal injection, which has killed more than 1,300 people in the US since being introduced.
Miller, who was convicted of killing three people in 1999, may be the first ever person to die at the hands of the state with nitrogen hypoxia.
The convicted murderer requested the alternative method of death as it's understood he is afraid of needles.
Miller has to overcome another obstacle if he is to have his death wish: Corrections Commissioner John Hamm has to approve the execution method in time.
The convicted killer has previously applied to die by nitrogen hypoxia, with lawyers for the inmate filing a lawsuit last month claiming that he had turned in a form selecting nitrogen, but the state lost it.
His lawyers are working to stop the use of lethal injection in Miller's death.
"If the State had not lost Mr. Miller's form, Mr. Miller would otherwise be executed by nitrogen hypoxia," court documents claimed, as per the Daily Mail.
A decision is yet to be announced, but deputy state attorney general James Houts revealed that it is 'very likely' the new method will be available for Miller's execution.
However, a spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Corrections said the plans are still unconfirmed.
"Nitrogen hypoxia execution protocol is still under development, and the physical building modifications to the execution chamber are still in process," the spokesperson said.
"Due to the fact those two items are not yet in a finalised state and potential security concerns exist, that is all we are able to share at this time."
While the new method provides some respite for those afraid of needles, like Miller, the appeal has been slammed for potentially allowing an 'experimental' method of execution.
Death Penalty Information Centre executive director Robert Dunham told Newsweek: "In a very real sense, execution by nitrogen hypoxia is experimental.
"It has never been done before and no one has any idea whether it is going to work the way its proponents say it will.
"And there is no way to test it because it is completely unethical to experimentally kill someone against their will."