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Death Row Inmate Earns Right To Ask For Firing Squad

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Death Row Inmate Earns Right To Ask For Firing Squad

A prisoner on Georgia's death row has won the right to ask to die by firing squad rather than lethal injection.

Michael Nance, 61, was sentenced to death in 2002 after being found guilty of the murder of 43-year-old Gabor Balogh in an attempted carjacking in 1993.

He is currently on death row in Georgia, but has said he would rather die by firing squad than lethal injection as he believes the latter method would cause undue pain and suffering. However, a firing squad is not an approved method of execution in the state of Georgia.

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Nance has argued a lethal injection would cause undue pain. Credit: Alamy
Nance has argued a lethal injection would cause undue pain. Credit: Alamy

Nance has argued that forcing him to have a lethal injection would violate his eighth amendment right that protects people from cruel and unusual punishment..

According to court documents cited by Sky News, Nance also said his veins are 'severely compromised and unsuitable for sustained intravenous access', and argued there was a risk the injection would not render him unconscious due to long-term use of a prescription drug he was given to treat back pain.

In a statement given to the Washington News Buereau, as reported by WSFA News, Nance's lawyer Matthew Hellman explained: “This case is about whether a prisoner can challenge a method of execution as unconstitutionally cruel even when it is the only method that the State has adopted. If the answer is no, the courthouse doors will be closed to many prisoners who simply seek to have their death sentences carried out in a humane and lawful manner.”

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Hellman told the Supreme Court the firing squad was the 'proposed alternative' for lethal injection, and added his legal team were 'not aware of any method of lethal injection that would be constitutional as to Mr. Nance'.

Michael Nance was found guilty of murder in 2002. Credit: Georgia Department of Corrections
Michael Nance was found guilty of murder in 2002. Credit: Georgia Department of Corrections

The Supreme Court has now ruled that Nance can challenge Georgia's execution protocol under federal civil rights.

The ruling comes after a prison medical technician allegedly told Nance in 2019 that the execution team would have to 'cut his neck' in order to carry out lethal injection, his legal team said, because they could not 'otherwise obtain sustained intravenous access'.

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The team also claimed Nance’s compromised veins posed a risk of him facing a ‘torturous’ and ‘excessively painful’ execution, WSFA News reports.

Firing squad is currently only used for executions in four states, namely Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah and South Carolina. Other methods of execution include electrocution, lethal gas and hanging, though lethal injection is the most common method for death row inmates and is favoured by 31 states.

Nance currently does not have an execution date after spending two decades behind bars.

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Featured Image Credit: Georgia Department of Corrections/Alamy

Topics: News, US News, Crime, Health

Emily Brown
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