Lawyer: Execution Attempt Was 'Gory, Botched'

'They gave up when they could not find a vein'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2018 2:19 AM CST
Updated Feb 26, 2018 6:01 AM CST
Lawyer: Execution Attempt Was 'Gory, Botched'
Doyle Lee Hamm.   (Alabama Department of Corrections via AP)

When the execution of Doyle Lee Hamm was called off last week, the Alabama Department of Corrections said it was because it didn't have time to prepare the inmate before a midnight death warrant expired. "I wouldn't necessarily characterize what we had tonight as a problem," claimed prison commissioner Jeff Dunn early Friday, saying it had only been a "time issue." A lawyer for the 61-year-old inmate, however, says the state is actually talking about a "gory, botched execution" that made a bloody mess of the death chamber and the inmate himself, Reuters reports. "They gave up when they could not find a vein," says Columbia Law School professor Bernard Harcourt. He says two sets of medical personnel worked on Hamm at the same time, trying to find a usable vein in his legs or groin.

The lawyer says an IV team almost certainly hit Hamm's bladder, and probably "hit his femoral artery as well, because suddenly there was a lot of blood gushing out," NBC News reports. "There were multiple puncture wounds on the ankles, calf, and right groin area, around a dozen." In recent court filings, Harcourt argued that terminal cancer, hepatitis, and prior drug use would make it difficult and painful to execute Hamm, who was sentenced to die for killing a motel clerk during a 1987 robbery, the AP reports. He says he warned that it would be "tortuous and bloody and they wouldn't succeed." The incident is being reviewed by a federal court and a judge has ordered the state to preserve evidence, including Hamm's bloodied clothes. Alabama hasn't said whether it will seek a new execution date. (More execution stories.)

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