The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of a Georgia death row prisoner seeking to die by firing squad, which is not one of the state’s approved methods of execution.
The high court said Michael Nance, 61, is allowed to challenge Georgia’s execution protocol under federal civil rights law. The state had argued that he could only bring a challenge under a habeas petition, which would have been dismissed as a successive habeas petition because he had exhausted previous attempts.
Nance said the state’s only available method of execution — lethal injection — could bring undue pain and suffering because his veins are “severely compromised and unsuitable for sustained intravenous access,” according to court documents.
He said there’s also an increased risk that the sedative used in Georgia’s lethal injection protocol won’t render him unconscious because of his longtime use of a prescription drug to treat back pain.
Four states have the use of a firing squad as an approved method of execution — Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah and South Carolina, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. South Carolina’s primary method is execution, while the other three use lethal injection as a primary method.
Nance was sentenced to death in 2002 for the 1993 murder of Gabor Balogh in an attempted carjacking after Nance robbed a bank. He does not currently have an execution date.
In 2017, Georgia used the lethal injection to execute J.W. “Boy” Ledford Jr., who sought to die by firing squad. He said firing squad would be a more humane way to die, but courts rejected his efforts.
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