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Kenneth Smith’s execution condemned with 43 more death row inmates slated to die by nitrogen: Updates

United Nations Says Alabama Execution With Nitrogen Could Be Torture

Alabama death row inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith has been executed by nitrogen gas – making him the first person in US history to be put to death through the controversial method.

Smith, 58, was pronounced dead at 8.25pm CT on Thursday at the William C Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, almost three decades after he was convicted in the 1988 murder-for-hire plot of Elizabeth Sennett.

His religious adviser Reverend Jeff Hood, who witnessed the execution, told reporters what he saw was a man “struggling for their life” for a staggering 22 minutes.

The White House condemned the execution on Friday. “It is very troubling to us as an administration. It is very troubling to us here at the White House,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Alabama authorities insist the execution went to plan, despite predicting the untested method would lead to unconsciousness within seconds and death in minutes.

But, witnesses said Smith appeared conscious for several minutes, shaking and writhing on the gurney.

“We didn’t see somebody go unconscious in 30 seconds,” said Rev Hood. “What we saw was minutes of someone struggling for their life.”

Smith’s death came after the US Supreme Court denied a final, 11th-hour bid to stay of execution. The ruling received dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor who wrote that the state had selected Smith as a “guinea pig” by using the untested method.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said that 43 more death row inmates have elected to die by nitrogen hypoxia. People incarcerated on death row are able to chose their preferred method from electrocution, lethal injection or nitrogen hypoxia.

The official said that he expects other states to follow suit based on the feedback he’s received from the execution. “I think it provides an opportunity for states to use this method,” he said.

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WATCH: Pastor who witnessed Kenneth Smith’s execution describes it as a ‘horror show’

Witness describes Kenneth Smith’s historic nitrogen gas execution

Andrea Cavallier27 January 2024 17:00

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Why was Kenneth Eugene Smith on death row?

Kenneth Eugene Smith became the first person in the world to be put to death using nitrogen gas after his execution was carried out on Thursday at an Alabama prison.

But how did Smith end up on death row in the first place? Read more:

Andrea Cavallier27 January 2024 16:00

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Why do we treat our pets more humanely than a death row inmate?

Authorities in Alabama have come up with a grim and as-yet untested alternative to lethal injection and electric chair – being gassed to death with pure nitrogen, a reputedly ‘painless’ procedure that slowly starves the criminal of oxygen until they die. But would you use it to put down a sickly pet, asks Sean O’Grady.

Read Sean’s full piece here:

Why do we treat our pets more humanely than a death row inmate?

Authorities in Alabama have come up with a grim and as-yet untested alternative to lethal injection and electric chair – being gassed to death with pure nitrogen, a reputedly ‘painless’ procedure that slowly starves the criminal of oxygen until they die. But would you use it to put down a sickly pet, asks Sean O’Grady

Matt Mathers27 January 2024 14:42

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ICYMI: Racism, gruesome errors, and botched executions

The last time Alabama attempted to execute Kenneth Eugene Smith, he was one of four death row inmates who were set to be killed across four states in just over 48 hours.

As Josh Marcus wrote for The Independent’s End the Death Penalty campaign at the time, the separate cases showed how capital punishment states struggle with the basics of swift, humane executions.

Then, Alabama botched Smith’s execution when it failed to a suitable vein in which to deliver the lethal drugs.

His execution by nitrogen hypoxia is due to be carried out by officials in the same chamber at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, on Thursday.

Read Josh’s full story from November 2022 below.

Mike Bedigan27 January 2024 14:00

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ICYMI: What happened at the nation’s first nitrogen gas execution: An AP eyewitness account

As witnesses including five news reporters watched through a window, Kenneth Eugene Smith, who was convicted and sentenced to die in the 1988 murder-for hire slaying of Elizabeth Sennett, convulsed on a gurney as Alabama carried out the nation’s first execution using nitrogen gas.

Critics who had worried the new execution method would be cruel and experimental said Smith’s final moments Thursday night proved they were right. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, however, characterized it on Friday as a “textbook” execution.

Matt Mathers27 January 2024 13:30

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ICYMI: Kenneth Smith killed by nitrogen gas in first death row case of its kind

The 58-year-old was strapped to a gurney and fitted with a mask and a breathing tube that controlled the gas, slowly depriving him of oxygen, at William C Holman prison in Atmore, Alabama last night.

Matt Mathers27 January 2024 13:00

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Why Kenneth Smith is being denied food ahead of nitrogen execution

Ahead of his planned execution on Thursday, Kenneth Smith received his last meal at 10am.

He is not be allowed to consume liquids after 4pm, approximately two hours before the execution. Alabama inmates are provided three meals a day.

Read the full story here:

Mike Bedigan27 January 2024 13:00

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Alabama’s new execution method could be dangerous for everyone in the room

Kenneth Eugene Smith is scheduled to become the first death row inmate to be executed with nitrogen. His pastor says the untested procedure is a cruel violation of religious liberties, Bevan Hurley reports.

Read the full piece here:

Matt Mathers27 January 2024 12:31

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Why do we treat our pets more humanely than a death row inmate?

Authorities in Alabama have come up with a grim and as-yet untested alternative to lethal injection and electric chair – being gassed to death with pure nitrogen, a reputedly ‘painless’ procedure that slowly starves the criminal of oxygen until they die.

But would you use it to put down a sickly pet, asks Sean O’Grady.

Why do we treat our pets more humanely than a death row inmate?

Authorities in Alabama have come up with a grim and as-yet untested alternative to lethal injection and electric chair – being gassed to death with pure nitrogen, a reputedly ‘painless’ procedure that slowly starves the criminal of oxygen until they die. But would you use it to put down a sickly pet, asks Sean O’Grady

Mike Bedigan27 January 2024 11:00

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IN PICTURES: Aftermath of Kenneth Eugene Smith’s execution

Reverend Jeff Hood, the spiritual advisor to Kenneth Smith, comforts Smith’s wife Deanna Smith after his execution:

(EPA)

Reverend Jeff Hood, the spiritual advisor to Kenneth Smith, speaks to reporters at the Holiday Inn Express after Smith’s execution:

Jeff Hood, the spiritual advisor to Kenneth Smith, speaks to reporters at the Holiday Inn Express,

(REUTERS)

Mike Sennett, son of Elizabeth Sennett, and other family members speak after Kenneth Eugene Smith’s execution:

Mike Sennett, son of Elizabeth Sennett, and other family members speak after Kenneth Eugene Smith’s execution

(AP)

Alabama’s Commissioner of the Department of Corrections John Hamm speaks to reporters alongside the family of Elizabeth Sennett:

Alabama’s Commissioner of the Department of Corrections John Hamm speaks to reporters alongside the family of Elizabeth Sennett

(REUTERS)

Mike Bedigan27 January 2024 09:00


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