Death row inmate handed last-minute reprieve as executioner runs out of time to administer lethal injection

Less than half an hour before the expiration of the death warrant, Alabama authorities ruled there would not be time to administer the fatal three-drug dose

Wil Crisp
Friday 12 April 2019 13:43
comments
Death row inmate handed last-minute reprieve as executioner runs out of time to administer lethal injection

A death row inmate’s execution was halted at the last minute after the Alabama Department of Corrections ruled that there was not enough time to carry out the lethal injection.

Christopher Lee Price was sentenced to death in 1993 after fatally stabbing pastor Bill Lynn during a robbery in 1991.

On 11 April, just hours before his scheduled execution, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling delaying Price’s execution by 60 days after his lawyers argued that Alabama’s three-drug lethal injection protocol was likely to cause severe pain.

Price has said that he would prefer to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia.

Alabama is one of three states to legally allow death by nitrogen, but the method is yet to be used and it is unclear how it could be implemented.

Methods ranging from a gas chamber to a gas mask have been put forward.

The death warrant for Price’s execution was due to expire at midnight on 11 April.

Less than half an hour before the expiration of the warrant, the Alabama Department of Corrections announced that there would not be time to carry out the execution, even if the court stay was lifted.

Prison officials said Price was being moved back to his normal cell in death row.

He had been due to be the second prisoner executed in Alabama this year.

In February, Alabama executed Domineque Ray after an 11th-hour US Supreme Court ruling vacated a stay of execution pending a religious rights claim.

The court ruled by a narrow majority that Ray had waited too long to bring the issue to light.

Ray, a Muslim, had argued Alabama’s practice of including a Christian prison chaplain in the execution chamber was in violation of the US first amendment.

He sought to have his imam present in the death chamber, but the state said it would only allow in trained prison employees.

Alabama’s prisons are amongst America’s most crowded and dangerous, according to a Justice Department report released earlier this month.

It found that the state’s 13 prisons for men house roughly 16,000 inmates and are dangerously understaffed.

The state’s prisons have the highest homicide rate in the country, according to the report.

It found that, due to understaffing, the prisons failed to protect inmates from prisoner-on-prisoner violence and prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse.

Alabama has been trying to address overcrowding through sentencing reform.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments