The state of Alabama is trying to use an untried method to execute a man on death row whose execution has already been botched.
Prosecutors want to proceed with the execution of 58-year-old Kenneth Eugene Smith using nitrogen hypoxia, in which he would be implicated Breathing nitrogen without the presence of oxygen, effectively lead to suffocation.
During a scheduled execution last November, Smith survived strapped to the execution stretcher for four hours. The executioners repeatedly poked him near his collarbone and arms and could not find a vein to inject a combination of chemicals intended to kill him.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall wants to reschedule Smith’s execution.
“It is a tragedy that Kenneth Smith escaped his death sentence for nearly 35 years after being convicted of the heinous murder by contract of an innocent woman, Elizabeth Sennett,” Marshall said in one opinion on Friday.
Smith was convicted in the 1980s of murdering Sennett, whose husband, the pastor Charles Sennett, had hired Smith and another individual, John Forrest Parker, to kill her so he could cash out the insurance policy. according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
In 2022, Smith’s attorneys attempted to stay his execution while the state continued to work to expedite the execution.
On the day Smith was scheduled to be executed in November 2022, executioners were struggling to gain access to a vein for the lethal injection. The execution team managed to set up one of two necessary intravenous lines in one of Smith’s veins, but failed to successfully set up a second before his death sentence expired at midnight. The Associated Press reported. Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Q. Hamm said executioners tried “at multiple locations” on Smith, AL.com reported at the time.
“Sometime before midnight, defendant [ADOC] halted their attempted execution on Mr. Smith, but not before inflicting them severe physical pain and emotional trauma beyond the human brain’s capacity to process,” Smith’s attorneys claimed in one Movement against ADOC.
Smith remained on the stretcher for hours, unaware that his execution had been stayed.
Alabama has botched several executions in which it was involved highly controversial lethal injection trial In recent years, access to the veins has been denied – including Alan Eugene Miller, once known as “the”.sole living survivor of the execution.” (Smith’s attorneys said that Smith has now joined Miller as one of the only two survivors of the execution in the United States.)
“Alabama has a dismal record of getting it right when it comes to executions — the state botched three executions by lethal injection in 2022. It’s the last state ever to experiment with an unprecedented, untested procedure with unknown consequences,” Robin Maher, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told HuffPost.
Smith had originally called for death from nitrogen hypoxia. He is not the first inmate to call for an alternative method of execution. Two inmates in Oklahoma last year demanded death by firing squad to avoid the possibility of prolonged pain during the lethal injection. (While the lethal injection method has been marketed as a “humane” way of killing, experience is was compared to the sensation risk of exposure to a chemical fire.)
A heavily edited 41-page document detailing the protocol for nitrogen hypoxia, a method never used before, says that a mask is put on the individual. “After the nitrogen gas is introduced, it is administered for 15 minutes or for five minutes after a flat reading on the EKG, whichever is longer,” the document said. The procedure causes people to suffocate due to lack of oxygen andS permitted in Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi.
The Alabama Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. Smith’s attorneys declined to comment.