Published: Fri, December 07, 2018

Death-row inmate awaiting word from court on stay of execution

Death-row inmate awaiting word from court on stay of execution

Miller's attorney filed a clemency application that claims his client's abusive childhood and mental state at the time put him "far outside that group of offenders who are the worst and for whom the death penalty is reserved".

The Tennessee Department of Correction says David Earl Miller will be served the meal on Thursday afternoon. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the majority ruling, as she did when the high court denied Zagorski's petition for a stay.

The death row convict, described by a a psychologist as a man consumed with rage, chose to be put to death by electric chair rather than by lethal injection.

But the sixth United States circuit court of appeals ruled against the inmates on 28 November and said a firing squad was an outmoded method of execution.

A Tennessee inmate has become the second person to be executed in just over a month - after being on death row for 36 years.

Miller was convicted of the 1981 killing of a 23-year-old mentally handicapped woman, Lee Standifer, in Knoxville.

The 23-year-old woman, who was mentally disabled, was repeatedly beaten, stabbed and dragged into the woods after going on a date with Miller.

Miller has spent 36 years on Tennessee's death row, the longest of any inmate. The last inmate to choose the chair, Edmund Zagorksi, was executed November 1. Other death row inmates are continuing to challenge both of Tennessee's methods. Both had unsuccessfully argued in court that Tennessee's lethal injection method causes a prolonged and torturous death. Zagorski's execution was delayed about three weeks after he requested the electric chair amid a last-minute flurry of legal maneuvers.

First used in 1890, execution by electric chair was developed as a "humane alternative" to hanging. The first drug, sodium thiopental or pentobarbital, puts the inmate to sleep; the second brings on paralysis and the third stops the heart.

Courts in Georgia and Nebraska have said the electric chair is unconstitutional.


Miller chose to die in the electric chair after he failed to convince the courts that Tennessee's midazolam-based lethal injection method causes a prolonged and torturous death. They pointed to the August execution of Billy Ray Irick, which took about 20 minutes and during which he coughed and huffed before turning a dark purple. That one argued that the court needs to clarify what an inmate must do to prove a more humane method of execution is available.

David Earl Miller, 61, was pronounced dead at 7:25 p.m.in Nashville, correction officials said.

States have moved away from the electric chair in recent decades - and no state uses electrocution as its main execution method anymore.

The average span between sentencing and execution is 15.5 years, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

In some cases that used midazolam, death row inmates appeared to struggle or convulse during the execution process.

But lethal injection would be worse, his attorneys argue.

He became the second person to request electrocution over lethal injection in Tennessee, behind Edmund Zagorski, who was put to death on November 1.

Miller's execution is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday evening.

A Tennessee death row inmate has selected a last meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits and coffee as he awaits word on his execution from the U.S. Supreme Court.

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