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USA | Parkland Case Challenges Us All to Figure Out What a Mass Murderer Deserves

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The ongoing sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz, the 23-year-old Florida man who in 2018 murdered fourteen students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, will test whether the seven men and five women on the jury hearing his case can hate the sin but muster the courage to spare the life of the sinner. That is exactly what his defense team is asking them to do as they sit in judgment of the person who perpetrated one of this country’s most brutal mass murders. Like many death penalty defense lawyers before them, Cruz’s lawyers, to their credit, have not downplayed the gravity of the horrors their client inflicted in Parkland, Florida. Instead, during the sentencing trial, or what the journalist Dahlia Lithwick once called a “trial of the heart,” they have focused their attention on who Cruz is and the factors that shaped his life. As the Supreme Court said more than fifty years ago, in capital cases those who impose the sentence must consider “

Appeals court blocks Alabama from lethally injecting inmate

A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected Alabama’s attempt to proceed with the execution of an inmate who claims the state lost his paperwork selecting an alternative to lethal injection.

In a 2-1 decision, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the state's request to lift a recent injunction preventing the state from carrying out Thursday night's scheduled execution of Alan Miller.

The state is appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, a spokesman for Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said.

Miller, 57, was convicted of killing 3 people in a 1999 workplace rampage and was scheduled to die by lethal injection until the execution was blocked by a judge earlier this week.


Miller testified that he turned in paperwork 4 years ago selecting nitrogen hypoxia as his execution method, putting it in a slot in his cell door for a prison worker to collect. U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state from killing Miller by any means other than nitrogen hypoxia.

In refusing to lift the injunction, the appeals court on Thursday said it is “substantially likely” that Miller “submitted a timely election form even though the State says that it does not have any physical record of a form.”

“Prison officials at Holman chose not to keep a log or list of those inmates who submitted an election form choosing nitrogen hypoxia,” the court said, finding that the state also did not demonstrate that it would “suffer irreparable harm” if the execution did not take place Thursday.

Nitrogen hypoxia is a proposed execution method in which death would be caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, thereby depriving him or her of the oxygen needed to maintain bodily functions. It is authorized as an execution method in 3 states but no state has attempted to put an inmate to death by the untested method. Alabama officials told the judge they are working to finalize the protocol.

When Alabama approved nitrogen hypoxia as an execution method in 2018, state law gave inmates a brief window to designate it as their execution method.

“That the state is not yet prepared to execute anyone by nitrogen hypoxia does not mean it will harm the state or the public to honor Miller’s timely election of nitrogen hypoxia. By contrast, if an injunction does not issue, Miller will be irrevocably deprived of his choice in how he will die — a choice the Alabama Legislature bestowed upon him,” Huffaker wrote.

The state argues there is no evidence to corroborate Miller's testimony that he turned in the form. “Miller offers no evidence aside from a self-serving affidavit,” lawyers for the state wrote.

Prosecutors said Miller, a delivery truck driver, killed co-workers Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy at a business in suburban Birmingham and then drove off to shoot former supervisor Terry Jarvis at a business where Miller had previously worked. Each man was shot multiple times and Miller was captured after a highway chase.

Trial testimony indicated Miller believed the men were spreading rumors about him, including that he was gay. A psychiatrist hired by the defense found that Miller suffered from severe mental illness but also said Miller’s condition wasn’t bad enough to use as a basis for an insanity defense under state law.

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Source: The Associated Press, Staff, September 22, 2022





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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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