Alabama is moving forward with plans for another execution using nitrogen gas, months after becoming the first state to utilize this previously untested method. The state’s attorney general’s office has requested the Alabama Supreme Court to set an execution date for Carey Dale Grayson, convicted of the 1994 murder of Vickie Deblieux in Jefferson County.

Background and Previous Executions

If approved, this would mark the third scheduled execution using nitrogen gas. In January, Alabama executed Kenneth Smith in the nation’s first nitrogen gas execution. Additionally, the state has scheduled the execution of Alan Eugene Miller on September 26 using the same method. Despite lethal injection remaining the primary method of execution in Alabama, inmates can opt for nitrogen gas or the electric chair. Following the nitrogen gas execution of Smith, the state has begun setting dates for other inmates who have chosen this method.

The request for Grayson’s execution date comes amid ongoing controversy and legal challenges regarding the use of nitrogen gas. During Smith’s execution, he experienced seizure-like convulsions for over two minutes and gasped for breath for several minutes afterward. Advocates argue this contradicts Alabama’s assurance of a quick and painless death. Despite this, Attorney General Steve Marshall defended the execution as “textbook” and offered assistance to other states in adopting the method. In their request, Alabama officials noted that Grayson had chosen nitrogen gas as his preferred execution method in 2018 and stated it is time to proceed.

However, Grayson’s attorney, John Palombi, insists that more scrutiny is needed. “It is disappointing that the State wants to schedule a third nitrogen hypoxia execution before the question of whether the first one tortured Kenneth Smith has been resolved,” Palombi said. He emphasized that Grayson, unaware of the specifics of the procedure when he made his choice, now has significant concerns that require thorough examination.

Case Details and Conclusion

Grayson was one of four individuals charged with the brutal murder of Deblieux on February 21, 1994. Prosecutors detailed that Deblieux, 37, was hitchhiking from Tennessee to Louisiana when she was picked up by the group, taken to a wooded area, attacked, beaten, and thrown off a cliff. Her body was later mutilated with 180 stab wounds. Grayson, along with Kenny Loggins and Trace Duncan, was convicted and sentenced to death. However, the death sentences of Loggins and Duncan, both under 18 at the time of the crime, were set aside after a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling banned the execution of juveniles. Grayson was 19 at the time.

If the Alabama Supreme Court authorizes the execution, Governor Kay Ivey will set the exact date. This ongoing development continues to spark debate over the use of nitrogen gas for executions in Alabama, highlighting the need for further examination and resolution of the method’s constitutionality and humaneness.

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