David Earl Miller chose to die by electric chair and is challenging the method of execution in what may be his final hours. The 61-year-old, who has spent almost all of his adult life on death row, is scheduled to die Thursday night.
Tennessee inmates have had no luck convincing courts to strike down the state's three-drug method of lethal injection, which they argue causes prolonged pain. The state's high court ruled against a band of prisoners earlier this year for failing to propose a plausible alternative.
Instead, Miller picked the electric chair. His attorneys argue that it wasn't much of a choice since they still think it will cause unnecessary agony, just not as much as the state's lethal injection procedure. A federal appeals court did not side with Miller, so now the U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to weigh in.
The electric chair is an option only for Tennessee death row inmates whose crimes occured before 1999. Miller was convicted of murdering a young woman with an intellectual disability in 1981.
He would be the second person in a matter of weeks put to death by electrocution in Tennessee but only the third since 1960. It's not clear whether there will be more. Other death row inmates are continuing to challenge both of Tennessee's methods. They've asked to die by firing squad, which was denied for Miller.
Haslam Receives Final Clemency Plea
Gov. Bill Haslam still hasn't given his final say on a clemency petition filed last week. The Tennessean reports Miller pleaded for mercy and for the governor to consider his "severe mental illness" at the time.
He killed 23-year-old Lee Standifer with a fire poker. In his letter to Haslam, Miller says he accepts responsibility for the death of his friend. He's asking to spend the rest of his life in prison rather than be put to death.
Haslam has not been inclined to intervene in death penalty cases, often saying he does not want to be "the 13th juror." He says he's focused on reviewing cases to make sure procedures were followed properly.