Alabama Prepares for Historic Execution: Alabama is gearing up for a historic execution, opting for nitrogen hypoxia over lethal injection for Kenneth Eugene Smith. The twist in this tale unfolded when the lethal injection attempt was abruptly halted due to IV placement issues on November 22. Smith, disappointed with the botched attempt, has requested execution by nitrogen gas.
Scheduled between January 25 and 26 next year, this unconventional method involves depriving the inmate’s brain and body of oxygen, causing death by asphyxiation. The Death Penalty Information Center sheds light on this alternative.
Alabama’s foray into nitrogen hypoxia gained momentum in August, with finalized protocols approved by the state legislature. The US Supreme Court, in May, sided with Smith’s preference for nitrogen gas, despite an earlier split decision in favor of lethal injection.
Smith’s grim backstory involves the 1988 murder of Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett in a murder-for-hire plot. Convicted alongside an accomplice, both were hired by Sennett’s husband, entangled in a romantic affair and holding a hefty insurance policy against his wife.
Following a jury’s initial 11-1 vote for life imprisonment, the judge imposed the death penalty, subjecting Smith to two trials, both resulting in guilt. Attorney General Steve Marshall corroborates this.
Expressing disappointment, Smith’s lawyers address the undisclosed protocol for the experimental nitrogen method. With 165 inmates on death row, Alabama resumes executions after a review prompted by prior lethal injection mishaps. Governor Kay Ivey’s call for resumption in February triggered this unsettling turn of events, as Smith faces an uncertain fate in the hands of nitrogen hypoxia.