By Bernie Woodall and David Beasley
(Reuters) - The execution of a 56-year-old man convicted of committing a double murder in Alabama on Christmas Eve, 1993, was put on hold after a U.S. district judge issued a stay and the state attorney general did not immediately appeal, officials said on Thursday.
Jeffrey Borden was convicted of shooting to death his estranged wife, Cheryl Borden, and his father-in-law, Roland Harris, in Gardendale, Alabama, in front of the former couple's children.
The stay was issued to give Borden time to challenge the use of the sedative midazolam to carry out his execution by lethal injection, said Christine Freeman, executive director of the public defenders office representing Borden.
"It will not be tonight," Alabama Department of Corrections spokeswoman Samantha Banks said by telephone.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said: "We will seek a new execution date as soon as possible." There was too little time to appeal against the stay for the execution to occur on Thursday, Marshall said in a statement.
Borden's attorneys have argued that midazolam does not render an inmate sufficiently unconscious to avoid cruel and unusual punishment, and thus should not be used in executions.
Another man convicted of double murder was executed in Florida on Thursday.
Michael Lambrix, 57, was pronounced dead at 10:10 p.m. at the Florida State Prison in Starke, the state's department of corrections said in a statement.
Lambrix was convicted of killing a man and a woman in 1983 in Glades County in southwestern Florida after inviting them over to eat spaghetti during a night of drinking, court records show. He choked and stomped on Aleisha Bryant and hit Clarence Moore Jr. over the head with a tire iron, according to records.
Lambrix said the court system that condemned him overlooked evidence he said would show he killed Moore in self-defense. Lambrix also said Moore killed Bryant.
"It won't be an execution," Lambrix told reporters on Tuesday at the prison in Starke. "It's going to be an act of cold-blooded murder."
Lambrix had sought a late stay from the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds that his death sentence should be considered unconstitutional, citing a 2016 ruling that Florida was allowing judges to exercise authority that belonged to juries.
Florida's death penalty laws have since been changed so that only a unanimous vote by a jury can condemn someone to death. A jury vote recommending the death penalty after Lambrix's conviction was not unanimous.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and David Beasley in Atlanta; Editing by Grant McCool, Peter Cooney and Paul Tait)