Feb. 23 (UPI) — The U.S. Supreme Court issued a temporary stay on the execution of an Alabama death row inmate Thursday.
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Clarence Thomas signed the stay on Doyle Lee Hamm’s execution just as it was scheduled to take place at 6 p.m., as the court will decide whether to let the execution proceed.
It is unclear how long the stay will last, but Alabama’s death warrant expires at midnight.
Hamm’s attorney argued the 61-year-old, who was convicted of killing motel clerk Patrick Cunningham in 1987, can’t be executed by lethal injection because lymphoma and past drug have caused too much damage to his veins.
Hamm was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, but the Alabama Attorney General’s Office has argued it is now in remission and he is healthy enough to be executed.
“Hamm’s claim was that he has compromised veins that prevent him from being executed by lethal injection. That claim was refuted by medical evidence,” the Attorney General’s office said in response to Hamm’s appeal for a stay.
Last Thursday the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling by U.S. Chief District Judge Karon O. Bowdre which stated Hamm has veins in his lower extremities which could be used to carry out the execution.
“Hamm has two peripheral veins accessible for a lethal injection, and his central veins are likewise accessible for a lethal injection,” the court ruled.
Hamm is one of three people scheduled for execution in the United States Thursday.
Eric Branch was executed via lethal injection at Florida State Prison at 6 p.m.