Alabama Inmate Appealing Upcoming Execution

Jun 1, 2017

Death row unit at Holman Correctional Facility near Atmore, Ala.
Credit EJI

A death row inmate in Alabama is looking to halt his upcoming execution due to the use of a sedative that his lawyers say has “failed to work properly in four states”.

Attorneys for inmate Robert Melson appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week for an emergency stay of his execution. Melson is scheduled to be put to death a week from today for the killings of three Gadsden restaurant employees during a 1995 robbery.

Melson’s lawyers argue the sedative midazolam, one of three drugs Alabama uses in its lethal injection process, runs the risk of not fully rendering him unconscious before other drugs stop his lungs and heart.

Back in December, an inmate coughed for 13 minutes and appeared to move slightly after consciousness tests during his execution. Last month, the 11th Circuit Court refused to stop the execution of Alabama inmate Tommy Arthur, whose lawyers also questioned the effectiveness of midazolam as a sedative.

The state of Alabama contends there is no evidence to suggest executed inmates experienced any pain.