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Settlement 'likely' for Ala. death row inmate who survived execution attempt

Whether the proposed settlement would include a ban on setting another execution date for Hamm was unclear


By Ivana Hrynkiw
Alabama Media Group, Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Alabama Attorney General's Office and the attorney for a death row inmate--who the state attempted to execute last month--are discussing "likely" settlement options.

According to court records, the state and Doyle Lee Hamm's attorney Bernard Harcourt are in "substantial and very serious settlement discussions, and believe that this case can be settled in the near future."

This image provided by the Alabama Department of Corrections shows Doyle Lee Hamm, an inmate scheduled to be executed Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 in Alabama. (Alabama Department of Corrections via AP)
This image provided by the Alabama Department of Corrections shows Doyle Lee Hamm, an inmate scheduled to be executed Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 in Alabama. (Alabama Department of Corrections via AP)

Whether the proposed settlement would include a ban on setting another execution date for Hamm was unclear. Both the AG's Office and Harcourt declined to comment for this story.

Hamm, 61, was set to be executed Feb. 22 by lethal injection, after Harcourt argued for months that Hamm's medical condition impaired his veins to the point where an intravenous injection procedure wouldn't work, and would cause extreme pain. The state disagreed, and a federal judge eventually ordered the execution could go on, but said the Alabama Department of Corrections could only use peripheral veins in Hamm's lower extremities.

Around 9 p.m. on Feb. 22, after a three-hour delay waiting on the U.S. Supreme Court to give the go ahead on the execution, medical personnel tried for over two hours to prepare Hamm for the execution. Harcourt said, and court records stated, the staff couldn't find a vein on either leg or either ankle. After those attempts failed, medical personnel moved on to try a central venous line in Hamm's right groin--where, days earlier, an independent doctor who evaluated Hamm said there were abnormal lymph nodes. 

The execution was called off around 11:30 p.m., before the death warrant expired at midnight. Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn announced that the execution wouldn't happen on the set night, but didn't specify exactly what the problem was.

Harcourt said Hamm likely suffered internal damage from the execution attempt.

Assistant AGs and Harcourt attended a telephone conference today with U.S. Chief District Judge Karon O Bowdre. A document filed by Harcourt Monday morning showed a proposed timeline for court proceedings, if the case were to go to trial. In that timeline, Harcourt says both sides should be prepared for trial by October 31, 2018, and the trial would take probably three to five days.

"The parties anticipate that the case will be settled," the filing states.

Hamm has been on death row for over 30 years, after being convicted in the slaying of Patrick Cunningham. Cunningham was killed in 1987 by a gunshot to the head while working the overnight shift at Anderson's Motel in Cullman.

©2018 Alabama Media Group, Birmingham

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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