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'Beats being on death row': TN inmate David Earl Miller executed

Miller died at 7:25 p.m. Central time at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.

Nashville — Update 8:30 P.M.: David Earl Miller, 61, was put to death at 7:25 p.m. Central time at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, according to the Tennessee Department of Correction.

Witnesses said Miller's last words were: "Beats being on death row."

He'd been the state's longest serving inmate facing execution -- more than 30 years.

Miller stared straight ahead as prison employees prepared to kill him.

After being soaked in salt water applied above his shaved head with a sponge, the pale-skinned, barefoot Miller was given two jolts of electricity while strapped in the electric chair at the prison's death chamber.

At 7:16 p.m. local time, witnesses described hearing an electric hum before the power was applied to his body. His body thrust upward when the electricity was applied.

Authorities applied two volts of electricity, the first for 20 seconds and the second for 15 seconds.

About two minutes later, the sound of the hum dissipated.

Seven journalists were picked to watch the execution along with defense attorney Stephen Kissinger.

Kissinger told reporters at a press conference after the execution that he considered his client to be "a friend."

He said Miller had told him he'd been grateful to make a handful of friends. Kissinger said those friends were with Miller in spirit on Thursday night.

Kissinger concluded his brief remarks with a thought for the press and public at large: "What is it we did here today?"

Earlier Thursday, the United State Supreme Court and Gov. Bill Haslam declined to intervene.

Miller murdered Lee Standifer after meeting her in downtown Knoxville and bringing her to a South Knoxville house where he was staying.

Previous story: The United States Supreme Court declined to halt the execution of David Earl Miller, clearing the way Thursday night for his electrocution.

Hours earlier, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam also declined to intervene, issuing the following statement.

"After careful consideration of David Earl Miller's clemency request, I am declining to intervene in this case."

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a frequent critic of the way states have handled the death penalty, issued a dissent tonight with the court's ruling.

Miller, on death row more than three decades, fought being executed regardless of the method. But his lawyers said he reluctantly was choosing the electric chair over lethal injection because it appeared to be the less heinous and painful of his options.

Sotomayor wrote the inmate hardly could take comfort in his options.

"The decision that the court leaves undisturbed in this case rests in part on the fiction that Miller's choice was voluntary, and in part on predictions about the efficacy of electric chairs made over a century ago," the justice wrote.

She continued: "Such madness should not continue."

Miller's execution was scheduled for Thursday shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern time, 7 p.m. central time in Nashville where he is set to die at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.

He received his last meal Thursday of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits and coffee before his scheduled execution, according to the Tennessee Department of Correction.

RELATED: Remembering Why: Murder of 23-year-old Lee Standifer

Death row inmates typically get $20 toward a special meal before they are executed.

Miller was sentenced to death after he was convicted of murdering Lee Standifer, 23, in 1981.

If things move forward as expected, Miller, 61, would be the third man put to death in 2018.

Miller was moved out of his cell on death row Tuesday and into a cell next to the execution chamber for a three-day period known as "death watch."

RELATED: KPD investigator remembers 1981 death row murder case

During death watch, the 72 hours leading up to an execution, "strict guidelines are implemented to maintain the security and control of the offender and to maintain safe and orderly operations of the prison," according to the Tennessee Department of Correction.

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