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First Execution by Nitrogen Gas
News Articles

First Execution by Nitrogen Gas: Kenneth Smith, Alabama Inmate, Undergoes Groundbreaking Capital Punishment Method

Alabama Conducts First Execution by Nitrogen Gas

Alabama executed Kenneth Smith on Thursday night using nitrogen gas, marking the first time this method has been employed for a death row inmate. The introduction of this novel execution technique has raised concerns among experts, who warn of potential excessive pain or torture.

Kenneth Smith’s Background and Legal Battles

Smith, sentenced to death for his role in a 1988 murder-for-hire case, had previously survived a lethal injection attempt in 2022. Despite last-minute appeals to the US Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday, the execution proceeded as scheduled.

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The Execution Process and Witness Accounts

Officials announced Smith’s time of death as 8:25 p.m. local time, following approximately 15 minutes of nitrogen administration. Witnesses from the media reported Smith making a lengthy statement before his death, expressing his views on Alabama’s choice of execution method.

During the execution, Smith appeared conscious for several minutes, followed by noticeable movements on the gurney. Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm explained these as expected side effects of nitrogen hypoxia, while Smith’s spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeff Hood, described the scene in more vivid terms.

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Reactions from Victims’ Family and Legal Team

The sons of the victim, Elizabeth Sennett, expressed satisfaction with Smith’s execution, believing justice had been served for their mother. In contrast, Smith’s legal team released a statement expressing deep sadness and emphasizing his positive contributions during incarceration.

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Controversies Surrounding Nitrogen Hypoxia

The execution method, nitrogen hypoxia, remains veiled in secrecy due to redactions in the state’s published protocol. While Alabama officials deem it a humane method, critics, including UN experts, question its effectiveness and express concerns about potential pain without scientific evidence.

Legal Challenges and Previous Execution Difficulties

Smith’s case faced legal challenges, with his attorneys arguing against the constitutionality of a second execution attempt. Alabama’s past struggles with lethal injections added to concerns about the efficacy of the new nitrogen gas method.

Read Also: Disturbing Crime news article of the men who raped, killed and engaged in cannabalism with his underage victims.

Broader Debates on Capital Punishment

Smith’s conviction and death sentence were connected to a murder-for-hire plot, shedding light on broader debates about the ethics and humaneness of capital punishment in the United States. The use of nitrogen gas as an execution method adds a new dimension to these ongoing discussions.

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