Warning: Graphic Images

THIS is the grim picture which Doyle Lee Hamm's lawyer argues is enough to prove he should not be sent back to the death chamber following a botched execution.

Hamm, 61, whose lethal injection was halted last month after doctors could not connect an intravenous line, was left bruised and bloodied after his "torturous" experience.

His lawyer Bernard Harcourt said a second execution attempt would violate a constitutional ban on cruel punishment.

In state and federal court filings, Mr Harcourt said his client's veins were damaged due to lymphoma, hepatitis and past drug use and challenged the legality of trying to execute a man twice.

Prior to the execution, the lawyer argued administering the lethal cocktail of drugs would be extremely difficult and would likely to be subjected to "cruel and needless pain".

Hamm had been scheduled to be executed on February 22 for the 1987 killing of motel clerk Patrick Cunningham.

However, the state was forced to call off the execution shortly after 11pm because of problems getting the intravenous line connected.

A doctor hired by Hamm's legal team wrote in a report included with the court filing that Hamm had 11 puncture sites following the botched execution.

He also bled heavily from his groin and sustained injuries including a possible punctured bladder during the attempts to connect the line.

Hamm also had to be carried back to his cell by correctional officers after the execution was called off for the night.

Photos submitted to the court showed Hamm's feet were bruised and blackened, presumably from pooling blood.

They also showed bruising from what the doctor said was a groin injury.

The filing included Hamm's recounting of the event to the physician, Dr Mark Heath who also took photos of the injuries.

Hamm indicated he had begun bleeding heavily from his groin, enough to soak through a pad or drape, during the attempt to connect the line.

Image shows puncture wounds from failed lethal injections on Doyle Lee Hamm. Picture: Bernard Harcourt
Image shows puncture wounds from failed lethal injections on Doyle Lee Hamm. Picture: Bernard Harcourt

Dr Heath wrote that Hamm said a man who had been on a phone watching the attempts announced to the team that the execution was over.

Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said the execution was stopped because of a "time issue" and concerns about getting the line connected before the midnight deadline.

'CRUEL PUNISHMENT'

Mr Harcourt's legal suit against the Alabama Department of Corrections argues his client's treatment amounted to torture.

The petition, filed this week, challenges a second execution by any means, arguing it's "a violation of double jeopardy and the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment".

Hamm has been on death row for decades after killing a motel worker.
Hamm has been on death row for decades after killing a motel worker.

Mr Harcourt argued authorities had been warned any attempt to administer the drug would result in "unnecessary pain and suffering" which was in violation of US law.

He also said an alternative method of execution via an oral lethal injection would not have needed to use his veins and therefore would have avoided a "botched, bloody, and cruel attempt at intravenous lethal injection".

"What resulted was a prolonged, exceedingly painful, bloody, and botched attempt to execute Doyle Hamm through his lower extremities and right groin. None of this was unforeseeable," the petition argues.

"Physically, as he was strapped down to the lethal injection gurney in the execution chamber knowing that he was about to die, Doyle Hamm was jabbed multiple times with needles and catheters in his ankles, shin, and right groin," the petition continues.

"Psychologically, once again strapped to his death gurney, Doyle Hamm was so injured that he hoped the execution team would succeed so that it would be over with and he would be dead."

Hamm was stabbed a total of five times, three in one leg and two on the other.

An ultrasound team attempted to find a vein in his groin, resulting in another six jabs, and left him bleeding.

The Alabama Department of Corrections declined to comment on Mr Harcourt's allegations, citing ongoing litigation, NBC News reported.

However, the corrections commissioner said he expected to be able to execute Hamm another time.

Amnesty International USA's Death Penalty expert Kristina Roth said this botched execution proved the death penalty system was broken.

"Hamm's attempted executions is another example of the state's wiliness to torture a condemned prisoner and blatant disregard for life," she said.

"The execution team tried for two hours to find a viable vein in Hamm after an independent court appointed doctor had already said no peripheral veins in his arms or hands were accessible."

Ms Roth said this wasn't the first time such an incident had occurred.

"In November last year, Ohio attempted for 30 minutes to execute Alva Campbell, ultimately rescheduling the execution for 2019," she said.

"Mr Campbell passed away last weekend of natural causes. With growing opposition to the death penalty in the US, these attempted executions show how irrevocably broken the death penalty is."

 

debra.killalea@news.com.au


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