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He Escaped Execution in 2018. 3 Years Later, He's Dead

Doyle Lee Hamm, 64, died of natural causes, with complications from lymphoma, per his lawyer
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2018 5:11 PM CDT
Updated Nov 29, 2021 10:20 AM CST
Man Who Walked Out of Execution Chamber Alive Won't Return to It
This undated photo the Alabama Department of Corrections shows inmate Doyle Lee Hamm.   (Alabama Department of Corrections via AP)

(Newser) Update: An Alabama man put on death row for killing a motel clerk in 1987 lived through what his lawyer called a "botched" execution attempt in 2018. A private settlement was reached so that the state wouldn't try to execute Doyle Lee Hamm again, but his reprieve, it turns out, was fairly short-lived: Hamm died early Sunday of natural causes at the age of 64, his attorney, Bernard Harcourt, tells AL.com. For the past seven years, Hamm had suffered from "an extremely aggressive lymphoma," and complications from the cancer contributed to his death, Harcourt says. That means Hamm had been sick during the execution attempt. Our original story from March 2018 follows:

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Last month, Doyle Lee Hamm walked out of an Alabama execution chamber alive. On Tuesday, the inmate's legal team said a private settlement had been reached to ensure the state won't try to execute Hamm again. Hamm, sentenced to death for killing a motel clerk during a 1987 robbery, was scheduled for execution Feb. 22; his death warrant expired at midnight. Alabama Department of Corrections officials said they called off the lethal injection execution because they didn't have enough time to prepare before the warrant expired, but Hamm's legal team say officials actually did make multiple attempts to get an IV in him and ultimately failed.

One of Hamm's lawyers called it a "gory, botched," and very bloody attempt to put the inmate to death, and his team says it left him in extreme pain and psychological distress and possibly suffering from an infection. The settlement puts an end to Hamm's resulting lawsuit against the state. "In a private, confidential settlement agreement that I signed with the attorneys from the Alabama Attorney General's office, we resolved all of our differences and have jointly dismissed all the state and federal litigation in Doyle Hamm's cases," Hamm's attorney Bernard Harcourt said in a statement Tuesday, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

Hamm's team argued in court that attempting to put him to death a second time would violate the Fifth Amendment's double jeopardy clause as well as the constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The Attorney General's office has not yet commented, but the Advertiser notes that court documents show Hamm's claim for monetary damages was dismissed. "I will say that Doyle, his family, and his legal team are extremely relieved," reads Harcourt's statement, per the AP. (Read more execution stories.)

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