A man who survived a ‘botched’ execution attempt has died of cancer, more than two years after returning to death row following the failed attempt to carry out his sentence.
Doyle Hamm died aged 64 of complications from B-cell lymphoma, which he had already been suffering from for four years when a federal court agreed that the state of Alabama could proceed with his execution in February 2018, despite concerns that he lacked a suitable vein for the lethal injection process.
Hamm was reportedly left in ‘excruciating pain’ after executioners tried unsuccessfully for more than two hours to find a vein, puncturing his legs, groin and arms. The execution was only called off when Hamm began bleeding on the gurney.
His lawyer, Bernard Harcourt, claimed that the attempt equated to ‘torture’, telling AL.com, ‘It was unconscionable.’
Hamm was sentenced to death in 1987 for the murder of hotel clerk Patrick Cunningham, who was shot in the head during a robbery gone wrong. However, following a report into the botched execution attempt, the state of Alabama agreed not to attempt to set another execution date for Hamm, leaving him to spend the final two years of his life in prison.
Following news of his death on Monday, November 29, Harcourt recalled that the federal court had ordered the execution to proceed, despite having been informed that Hamm’s diagnosis threatened to violate his Eighth Amendment right against ‘cruel and unusual punishment’.
‘He was very fragile from the operation and the cancer treatments in 2017, when the state decided they needed to execute him, rather than let him die from cancer,’ he said, per the Montgomery Advisor.
Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said that cases like Hamm’s ‘tell us more about who we are as a state and as a society than anything else’, adding, ‘When a death row prisoner is old and frail and dying, he doesn’t pose a risk to anyone else.’
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