Alabama sets execution date for triple murder

Published 8:47 pm Monday, July 18, 2022

A mentally disturbed truck driver convicted of killing three men in a workplace shooting rampage more than two decades ago is set to be put to death on Sept. 22, the Alabama Supreme Court said Monday.

The clerk’s office announced the scheduled execution date of Alan Eugene Miller, 57, who was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in the slayings, which occurred in Shelby County in 1999.

Miller could still mount a legal challenge to block his planned execution by lethal injection at Holman Prison in Atmore. While the prison system has said it is developing nitrogen hypoxia as an alternative way to put people to death, the state isn’t yet setting execution dates for inmates who choose that untested method.

An executive entering Ferguson Enterprises in Pelham on Aug. 5, 1999, heard noises and saw Miller, a delivery driver, leaving before finding Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy fatally wounded inside, court documents show. Miller drove off and then showed up a few miles (kilometers) away at Post Airgas, where Terry Jarvis was killed and Miller previously had worked.

Another worker at Post Airgas called police, who arrested Miller in his truck on a highway.

Testimony indicated that Miller was delusional and believed the men were spreading rumors about him, including one by Jarvis that he was gay. While a defense psychiatrist testified that the man was mentally ill, he also said Miller’s condition wasn’t bad enough to use as a basis for an insanity defense under state law.

Given the amount of evidence that prosecutors compiled, the defense concentrated on attempting to spare Miller’s life at sentencing rather than convincing jurors of his innocence. Jurors convicted Miller after 20 minutes of deliberation and then recommended a death sentence, which a judge imposed under Alabama’s capital punishment law at the time.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused an appeal by Miller in October.

Courts previously rejected Miller’s claims that neither the jury nor a judge specified aggravating circumstances that made him eligible for the death penalty. Courts also rejected Miller’s arguments that the judge instructed jurors about the law improperly and that his defense lawyer was ineffective.

Another Alabama inmate already is set for execution later this month.

A federal judge last week ruled that the execution of Joe Nathan James Jr. could go ahead as scheduled on July 28, refusing the condemned man’s request for a postponement. James was convicted of killing his one-time girlfriend, Faith Hall, in Birmingham, almost three decades ago.