Alabama Execution Set For Thursday Night
ROBERT BRYANT MELSON ON ALABAMA DEATH ROW
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama is preparing to execute an inmate for the shooting deaths of three fast food restaurant workers during a 1994 robbery.
Robert Bryant Melson, 46, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday evening at a south Alabama prison.
State prosecutors said Melson and another man who used to work at the restaurant, robbed a Popeye’s in Gadsden, 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of Birmingham. They said Melson opened fire on four employees in the restaurant’s freezer. Nathaniel Baker, Tamika Collins and Darrell Collier were killed.
The surviving employee, Bryant Archer, crawled for help and was able to identify one of the robbers as the former worker. While he could not identify Melson, prosecutors said Melson told police he had been with the former employee that night. A shoeprint behind the store matched Melson’s shoes, they said.
The Alabama Supreme Court and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both refused Thursday to stay Melson’s execution.
Melson’s attorneys asked appellate courts to halt the execution in order to review the constitutionality of Alabama’s lethal injection protocol. Melson and other inmates are appealing a judge’s dismissal of lawsuits that argued Alabama plans to use the sedative midazolam has been linked to what they say were problematic executions. Some states have turned to the sedative as other lethal injection drugs became difficult to obtain. They argue a federal judge prematurely dismissed their lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the state’s death penalty procedures.
Midazolam is supposed to prevent inmates from feeling pain before other drugs are given to stop their lungs and heart, but several executions in which inmates lurched or coughed have raised questions about its use. An inmate in Alabama coughed and heaved for the first 13 minutes of an execution held in December.
Melson’s attorney argued that midazolam does not anesthetize an inmate, but they look still, because a second drug, a paralytic, prevents them from moving.