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Alabama Prepares for Lethal Injection of Convicted Killer Following Historic Nitrogen Gas Execution


MONTGOMERY, AL— Alabama is going to put to death a man Thursday night who was found guilty of killing an old couple with a baseball bat 20 years ago in order to steal their prescription drugs and $140.

Jamie Ray Mills, who is 50 years old, is going to be put to death Thursday night at a jail in south Alabama. It will be Alabama’s first execution since January when it carried out the first execution in the country using nitrogen gas. Unless a prisoner asks for nitrogen, lethal injection is still the state’s main way of putting people to death.

Mills was found guilty of capital murder in the 2004 deaths of Floyd Hill, 87, and his wife Vera Hill, 72. The killings happened in Guin, which is about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northwest of Birmingham. Prosecutors said Mills and his wife went to the couple’s house and used a hammer, a tire tool, and a knife to attack them.

Mills, who said he wasn’t guilty at his trial in 2007, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in. His lawyers said that new proof shows the prosecution lied when they said they had a deal with Mills’ wife to keep her from going to death row if she testified against her husband. The office of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall asked the judges to go ahead with the execution, saying there was no doubt that Mills was guilty.

Floyd Hill was the main person who took care of his sick and diabetic wife. He kept her medicines in the couple’s kitchen in a tackle box. As an extra way to make money, the Hills often held yard sales. When the grandparents’ granddaughter tried to help them but failed, police found them in pools of blood in the shed in the backyard where they kept things for yard sales.

According to a court document, Floyd Hill died from blunt and sharp force injuries to the head and neck. About 12 weeks later, Vera Hill died from effects from head trauma. Court records show that Vera Hill could barely talk after the killings, only able to call out for her husband.

Mills had just quit his job as a car mechanic at a gas station, where his boss had called him a “hard worker.” Court records showed that he was more than $10,000 behind on child support for his two boys, was upset that his parents’ health was getting worse, and had started using drugs again.

One of the most important witnesses against her common-law husband was JoAnn Mills. She said that her husband told her they were going to see a man about money after smoking methamphetamine all night and that she should follow him around the house. According to court records, she claimed that she saw her husband hit the couple several times in the backyard shed when they got home.

Jamie Mills was found guilty of capital murder by a jury that decided 11-1 for the death penalty, which was then given by a judge. Before she testified against her husband, JoAnn Mills was also charged with capital murder. However, she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of murder and was given a life sentence with the chance of parole. She is still locked up.

The last appeals that went to the U.S. Supreme Court were mostly about claims that the prosecution didn’t tell the court about a deal they made with JoAnn Mills and problems with the state’s lethal injection process. The trial lawyer for JoAnn Mill, Tony Glenn, said in an affidavit from February that he talked with the DA before the 2007 trial and was told that the DA would let her plead guilty to a lesser charge if she testified. JoAnn Mills said in court that she was only testifying to get “some forgiveness from God.”

“New evidence shows that prosecutors illegally got Jamie Mills convicted by lying to the judge and jury that they had not made a deal with the State’s star witness,” the Equal Justice Initiative, which is representing Mills, wrote on its website. “The state of Alabama plans to execute Jamie Mills by lethal injection on May 30.”

The state asked the court to carry out the execution and said that the prosecutor and detective both said there was no plea deal. They said that he is also linked to the crime by other proof.

The state wrote, “The jury that decided Mills’ fate heard a lot of evidence that pointed the finger at him. For example, the murder weapons and pants with his name on them were found in his trunk, covered in the blood of one of the victims.”

Mills’ lawyers said that since the trunk wasn’t locked, anyone could have put the things inside. They saw that the murder tools had DNA on them that couldn’t be identified. Lawyers for Mills wrote that the state’s case against him “was consistent with Mr. Mills’ theory of defense that he was framed” by a drug dealer caught with the victims’ pills and a lot of cash the night of the killings.

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