'Beats being on death row': Death row inmate David Earl Miller executed
Media witnesses recounted details about the moments leading up to his execution in a news conference immediately following. Miller's final words were "beats being on death row."
No victim witnesses were present for the execution, but a victim from Ohio who asked that her name not be given gave a written statement to the Tennessee Department of Corrections stating, "After a long line of victims he has left, it is time to be done. It is time for him to pay for what he has done to me."
Miller was reportedly already strapped into the chair at 7:12 p.m. when the blinds were raised to those in the viewing. Miller's head had been shaved, his pants were rolled up to his knees and he was barefoot. He wore a cream-colored jumpsuit with a shirt and undershirt underneath it. Officers placed a sponge on his head and a cap was strapped to his head, water was running off him and had to be cleaned up.
An electrical cable was hooked up to the chair around 7:15 p.m. Miller was reportedly looking down in his final moments. At 7:16 p.m., the first jolt of current was sent to the chair, and Miller's body stiffened and relaxed and in the same minute a second jolt was sent. Media witnesses recount that Miller did not move after that second jolt and the blinds were lowered around 7:22 p.m.
Steve Kissinger, an assistant public defender from Knoxville who represented Miller called him a 'friend, father, and grandfather.'
"If any of you have been reading what we've been submitting to the governor, what we have been sending to the courts for the last 20 years you'll know that he cared deeply for Lee Standifer and she would be alive today if it weren't for a sadistic stepfather and a mother who violated every trust that a son should have," said Kissinger, "I came up here promising to tell you what we did here today, but I think maybe what I should be doing is ask you all that question. What is it that we did here today?"
Lt. Governor Randy McNally made the statement below following tonight's execution at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution:
"In the state of Tennessee, we reserve the ultimate and irrevocable penalty of death only for the most heinous of crimes. Lee Standifer was a special needs woman living a full and productive life. That life was taken in a cruel, savage and torturous fashion by the individual put to death tonight. Justice, long delayed, has now been served. It is my solemn hope the family of Lee Standifer can now be at peace."
Miller asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to halt his scheduled execution, claiming that the electric chair is unconstitutional but that the state's lethal injection method is worse.
The Supreme Court denied Miller's request for a stay of execution Thursday night, with Justice Sotomayor dissenting.
Sotomayor said the requirement that death row inmates prove alternative means of execution is a "perverse requirement" and that "such madness should not continue." Her entire dissent can be read here.
Sotomayor also wrote dissenting opinions when previous Tennessee death row inmates Billy Ray Irick and Edmund Zagorski also requested stays of execution.
Gov. Bill Haslam declined to intervene in the case, issuing this statement on Thursday: "After careful consideration of David Earl Miller’s clemency request, I am declining to intervene in this case."
Miller was moved to death watch just after midnight Tuesday. As part of this procedure, Miller was being kept in a cell adjacent to the execution chamber and was undergoing a 24-hour observation by a team of officers. Employees at the facility were also undergoing strict guidelines to maintain the security and control of the prison.
Miller's final meal consisted of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits and coffee. He received the meal just before 4:30 p.m.
According to The Associated Press, Miller has spent 36 years on death row, which is the longest of any Tennessee inmate.
Miller was convicted of killing a 23-year-old mentally handicapped woman in 1981 in Knoxville.