Lawyer Claims Something Not Right With Alabama Execution


ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — A lawyer for an Alabama inmate put to death by lethal injection said Friday she is concerned his trembling limbs and labored breathing were an indication something “was not right” with the procedure.

Robert Melson, 46, was pronounced dead at 10:27 p.m. CDT Thursday at a southwest Alabama prison, authorities said.

Melson’s attorneys had filed a flurry of last-minute appeals seeking to stay the execution, arguing that the state planned to use a sedative that would not reliably render Melson unconscious before other drugs stopped his longs and heart. In December, an Alabama man coughed and heaved for the first 13 minutes of an execution and appeared to move slightly after two consciousness tests.

“I don’t think there any questions that there was something that was not right,” said Christine Freeman, the executive director of the Federal Defenders Program in Montgomery, who witnessed the execution. “There is no question that midazolam is really problematic,” she said.

Melson’s hands and arms quivered and shook against the restraints at 9:59 p.m. His breathing appeared to become labored, with his chest moving up and down, before slowing until it was no longer perceptible by 10:09 p.m.

The execution took 32 minutes from the time the death warrant was read until Melson was pronounced dead at 10:27 p.m. CDT.

The Alabama attorney general’s office argued midazolam’s use has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and it has allowed multiple executions to proceed using the drug, including the execution of an Alabama inmate last month.

The execution was the state’s second of the year.

Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said Thursday that Melson’s execution went according to protocol.

Categories: Alabama News