A man who previously tried to have thrown out the death sentence he received, after murdering a man in Lilburn nearly 30 years ago, has a new request for a federal judge: let a firing squad shoot him to death.
Michael Wade Nance’s team of attorneys filed the petition with the Northern District Court of Georgia last week to stop state officials from executing him by lethal injection, which is the traditional method of execution used in Georgia.
“Defendants could avoid subjecting Mr. Nance to a gratuitously painful execution by implementing a readily available alternative, namely death by firing squad, which would significantly reduce the substantial risk of severe pain,” attorney John P. Hutchins wrote in the petition.
Nance, who will turn 59 this year according to state prison records, was convicted in 1997 of the December 1993 murder of Gabor Balogh in the parking lot of the ABC Package Store on Indian Trail Road, according to a 2013 Daily Post report. Nance had just robbed the Tucker Federal Bank across the street before running over to Balogh’s car so he could steal it and get away.
Balogh was shot in the left elbow, but the bullet ricocheted and punctured his heart and liver, leading to his death, according to the 2013 Daily Post report.
The Georgia Supreme Court was asked at least three times to rule on the death sentence levied against Nance. It upheld his conviction but tossed the original death sentence in 2000 citing a problem with a juror that the high court ruled should not have been on the jury.
Another death sentence was handed down in 2002, but that sentence was also challenged by Nance. It was thrown out by a Butts County court, but re-instated by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2013, according to the Daily Post report from that time.
Nance attempted to appeal the Georgia Supreme Court’s 2013 decision by taking it to the federal courts, but it was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals last year, according to court documents.
A firing squad is not a traditional method of executing people in the U.S., with CNN reporting it is only used in three states: Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah. No inmate in a U.S. prison has been executed by firing squad since 2010, with the last one taking place in Utah, according to CNN.
Nance’s attorneys cited issues with his veins as part of the reason why the request was being made to use a firing squad instead of lethal injection.
“Mr. Nance’s veins are extremely difficult to locate through visual examination, and those veins that are visible are severely compromised and unsuitable for sustained intravenous access,” Hutchins wrote. “If defendants attempt to execute Mr. Nance by lethal injection, there is a substantial risk that Mr. Nance’s veins will lose their structural integrity and ‘blow,’ leading to the leakage of the lethal injection drug into the surrounding tissue.
“The leakage of the lethal injection drug causes intense pain and burning in the surrounding tissue, and also results in inadequate or inconsistent drug delivery, leading to a prolonged execution that will produce excruciating pain.”
In addition to raising concerns about Nance’s veins, his attorneys also argued that a prescription medication he has been taking, gabapentin, may make it impossible to block an agent administered to prevent him from feeling pain during the lethal injection execution. Nance has been taking the medication to deal with chronic back pain.
The attorney argued that, due to the potential effects of the medication as well as the issues with his veins, executing him by lethal injection would violate his rights under the eighth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
“Mr. Nance’s continuous exposure to gabapentin has altered his brain chemistry in such a way that pentobarbital will no longer reliably render him unconscious and insensate, further creating and exacerbating the substantial risk that Mr. Nance will consciously suffer a prolonged and painful execution,” Hutchins said in the petition.