MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA (AP) – Alabama corrections officials apparently botched an inmate’s execution last month, an anti-death penalty group alleges, citing the length of time that passed before the prisoner received the lethal injection and a private autopsy indicating his arm may have been cut to find a vein.
Joe Nathan James Jr was put to death on July 28 at an Alabama prison for the 1994 shooting death of his former girlfriend.
The execution was carried out more than three hours after the United States (US) Supreme Court denied a request for a stay.
“Subjecting a prisoner to three hours of pain and suffering is the definition of cruel and unusual punishment,” Maya Foa, director of Reprieve US Forensic Justice Initiative, a human rights group that opposes the death penalty, said in a statement. “States cannot continue to pretend that the abhorrent practise of lethal injection is in any way humane.”
The Alabama Department of Forensic Science declined a request to release the state’s autopsy of James, citing an ongoing review that happens after every execution. Officials have not responded to requests for comment on the private autopsy, which was first reported by The Atlantic.
At the time of the execution, Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm told reporters that “nothing out of the ordinary” happened. Hamm said he wasn’t aware of the prisoner fighting or resisting officers. The state later acknowledged that the execution was delayed because of difficulties establishing an intravenous line, but did not specify how long it took.
Dr Joel Zivot, a professor of anesthesiology at Emory University and an expert on lethal injection who witnessed the private autopsy, said it looked like there were numerous attempts to connect a line.