Alabama inmate who survived ‘botched execution’ in 2018 dies of natural causes

ATMORE, Ala. — Doyle Lee Hamm, an Alabama death row inmate who survived a botched execution nearly four years ago, died Sunday, his attorney said. He was 64.

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Bernard Harcourt said that Hamm had been fighting an “extremely aggressive lymphoma” since 2014, AL.com reported. Harcourt said complications from lymphoma contributed to Hamm’s death, according to the website.

Hamm was sentenced to death in 1987 and served more than 33 years in prison for the murder of Patrick Cunningham, who was shot in the head while working the overnight shift at a motel in Cullman, AL.com reported.

Hamm was scheduled to die by lethal injection on Feb. 22, 2018, but he survived after medical personnel spent two-and-a-half hours attempting to find a vein to insert the catheter needed for the lethal drugs, the website reported. Personnel attempted to insert the catheter in Hamm’s lower legs and groin, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

Harcourt said it led to Hamm suffering extreme pain, possible infection and psychological distress.

“It was a botched execution,” Harcourt told reporters in March 2018.

Hamm became the fourth person in more than 70 years to escape an execution attempt in the U.S., according to the Advertiser.

Later that year, the state of Alabama agreed to not set any more execution dates for Hamm, according to a news release from Harcourt. He and lawyers from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office entered into a confidential settlement agreement that resolved all pending litigation in both federal and state courts regarding Hamm’s execution.

Before the scheduled execution, Harcourt argued that Hamm’s veins had become nearly impossible to access after years of intravenous drug use, AL.com reported. The IVs were used to treat Hamm’s lymphatic cancer.

The attorney general’s office argued that Hamm’s cancer was in remission.

“The result was an agonizing, torturous botched execution that left him on the gurney for two-and-a-half hours as they picked and prodded at his legs and groin, trying to find a vein,” Harcourt told AL.com. “It was unconscionable.”