news 4 days ago

The Latest: Tennessee inmate's last words barely heard

The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Latest on an execution in Tennessee (all times local):

8:15 p.m.

The final words of a man executed in Tennessee almost couldn't be heard.

Sixty-one-year-old David Earl Miller was asked before his execution Thursday night if he had anything to say. When his words couldn't be made out, he was asked again, and his attorney clarified that he was saying, "Beats being on death row."

Miller became the second person to die in the state's electric chair in just over a month. He was pronounced dead at 7:25 p.m. at a Nashville maximum-security prison.

He had been on death row for 36 years for the 1981 murder of a mentally handicapped Knoxville woman.

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7:35 p.m.

Tennessee has executed its longest-serving death row inmate, who became the second person to be killed in the state's electric chair in just over a month.

Corrections officials say 61-year-old David Earl Miller was pronounced dead at 7:25 p.m. Thursday at a Nashville maximum-security prison.

Miller was sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of a mentally handicapped Knoxville woman. He had been on death row for 36 years.

Miller chose to die in the electric chair after he failed to convince the courts that Tennessee's midazolam-based lethal injection method causes a prolonged and torturous death.

Just over a month earlier, inmate Edmund Zagorski also chose the electric chair for his execution Nov. 1. Before Zagorski's death, there had been only one other electrocution since 1960.

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6:50 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to halt plans by the state of Tennessee to put an inmate to death in the electric chair.

Attorneys for 61-year-old inmate David Earl Miller had previously filed two applications seeking to halt the scheduled 7 p.m. execution at a Nashville prison. The court, in an emailed statement, said the request for a stay was denied, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissenting.

In claims to the court, Miller's attorneys had argued that the electric chair is unconstitutional but the state's lethal injection method is worse. The 61-year-old previously filed a separate request with the nation's high court in November. That one argued that the court needs to clarify what an inmate must do to prove a more humane method of execution is available.

Miller was convicted and received the death sentence for the 1981 murder of 23-year-old Lee Standifer.

Gov. Bill Haslam earlier Thursday turned down a request to commute Miller's sentence to life in prison.

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4:00 p.m.

With only hours left before his scheduled execution in the electric chair, a Tennessee inmate is waiting for a response from the U.S. Supreme Court on two applications to halt the procedure.

David Earl Miller filed one request on Monday, arguing the electric chair is unconstitutional but the state's lethal injection method is worse.

The 61-year-old previously filed another request with the nation's high court in November. That one argues that the court needs to clarify what an inmate must do to prove a more humane method of execution is available.

Miller is scheduled to die at 7 p.m. Thursday at a Nashville prison for the 1981 murder of 23-year-old Lee Standifer.

Gov. Bill Haslam earlier Thursday turned down a request to commute Miller's sentence to life in prison.

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12:40 p.m.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam won't intervene in what would be the state's second execution by electric chair in as many months.

Haslam said in a one-sentence statement Thursday that he's declining to intervene in 61-year-old David Earl Miller's planned execution Thursday evening after "careful consideration" of the death row inmate's clemency request.

Miller chose the electric chair as allowed by authorities. The last inmate to choose the chair, Edmund Zagorksi, was executed Nov. 1. Both had unsuccessfully argued in court that Tennessee's lethal injection method causes a prolonged and torturous death.

Miller was convicted of the 1981 killing of a 23-year-old mentally handicapped woman, Lee Standifer, in Knoxville. Miller has spent 36 years on death row, the longest of any Tennessee inmate.

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12 a.m.

A Tennessee inmate is scheduled Thursday evening to become the second person to die in the state's electric chair in as many months.

The execution plan comes nearly two decades after Tennessee adopted lethal injection. But 61-year-old David Earl Miller chose the electric chair as allowed by authorities. The last inmate to choose the chair, Edmund Zagorksi, was executed Nov. 1.

Both had unsuccessfully argued in court that Tennessee's lethal injection method causes a prolonged and torturous death.

Miller was convicted of the 1981 killing of a 23-year-old mentally handicapped woman, Lee Standifer, in Knoxville. Miller has spent 36 years on death row, the longest of any Tennessee inmate.