December 4, 2022

Joe Nathan James Jr was put on death row for the murder of Faith Hill

An American prisoner could have experienced the longest recorded execution in US history after he was said to have been put through “three hours of pain” following a lethal injection gone wrong.

Joe Nathan James Jr, who was put on death row in 1999 for the murder of Faith Hill in 1994, was due to receive the injection at a prison in Alabama on July 29. However, the process was delayed three hours and the injection is thought to have taken up to three and a half hours.

The state of Alabama has been the subject of a damning op-ed by the Montgomery Adviser over reports that this is one of several botched injections in recent years.

As reported by The Atlantic, despite state officials initially insisted there was “nothing out of the ordinary” about James’ execution, it was later revealed that the executioners had difficulties accessing the veins needed to administer the lethal drugs.

Moreover, according to his autopsy report examined by the outlet and human rights organisation, Reprieve US, it was concluded the injection began long before witnesses were eventually admitted to observe the execution around 9pm local time.

Reporter Elizabeth Bruenig said that despite evidence deteriorating in cool storage, her initial impression of the body was that James’ “hands and wrists had been burst by needles, in every place one can bend or flex”.

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She also noted that “the carnage farther up one arm told a radically different tale than the narrative offered by the Alabama Department of Corrections (DOC).”

The DOC could not not confirm whether or not James had been “fully conscious” during the procedure, but told journalists that he had not been sedated beforehand.

Credit: Hill family/ABC News – (L-R) Faith Hill, her daughter Terrlyn and brother Obito

James had previously dated Hill, a mother of two, before he began stalking and harassing her in the months before shooting her dead.

Hill’s family had said they “hoped the state wouldn’t take a life simply because a life was taken”, adding that they had forgiven him for his “atrocities”. Their request was rejected by governor Kay Ivey.

Earlier this month it was revealed that Joseph Wood took almost two hours to die during a 2014 execution.

Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve US, said in a statement: “Subjecting a prisoner to three hours of pain and suffering is the definition of cruel and unusual punishment. States cannot continue to pretend that the abhorrent practice of lethal injection is in any way humane.

“This is the latest example of the extreme lengths states will be go to hide the brutal reality of lethal injection because they know the public would oppose it if they found out what was really going on.”

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