By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge ruled Tuesday that an Alabama inmate who has battled lymphoma and hepatitis C has veins that are in good enough shape that the state can execute him by injection this week.
U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre denied Doyle Lee Hamm’s request to block his scheduled execution Thursday.
Hamm’s attorney has argued that lethal injection would be unconstitutionally cruel because lymphoma, drug use and hepatitis C have compromised Hamm’s veins. His lawyer also argued it would be inhumane to execute someone battling cancer.
Hamm was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014. The state contends he has been in remission since 2016.
Bowdre said an independent medical review found that Hamm has usable veins in his lower extremities. The expert said a doctor or physician’s assistant would have to use ultrasound in order to tap the veins in his upper extremities. However, Bowdre said the state stipulated during a Feb. 16 hearing that it would not attempt to administer the lethal injection drugs through those veins.
“He cannot show any medical factors that would make the Alabama lethal injection protocol, as applied to him, more likely to violate the Eighth Amendment than it would for any other inmate who would be executed following that protocol,” Bowdre wrote.
Hamm is scheduled to be executed Thursday for the 1987 murder of Cullman motel clerk Patrick Cunningham.
Prosecutors said Cunningham was working the overnight shift at Anderson’s Motel when he was killed in a robbery that netted $410. Cunningham had been shot once in the temple with a handgun. Prosecutors said that Hamm confessed to the murder and that two accomplices testified against him in exchange for being allowed to plead guilty to lesser offenses.
Hamm’s attorney, Bernard E. Harcourt, said he is appealing the decision to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Harcourt wrote in court filing before Bowdre that the state, prior to the Feb. 16 hearing, had planned to execute Hamm using “the very veins” that the expert said would be difficult to access.