Alabama Sets Date To Execute Death Row Inmate By Nitrogen Gas

Oldest Tennessee Death Row Inmate Executed

( – In November 2022, the Alabama Department of Corrections attempted to execute convicted murderer Kenneth Eugene Smith by lethal injection. Staff members tried to insert a pair of intravenous lines into the death row inmate — as required by law — but were unsuccessful. After trying different methods, they had to temporarily abandon the execution. But Alabama now has a new method of carrying out capital punishment, and Smith now has a new execution date.

On November 8, the Alabama Reflector reported that Governor Kay Ivey set an execution date for Smith for midnight on January 25, 2024. The order runs for six hours until 6 a.m. the next day. It will be the first execution by nitrogen gas, which was recently approved by the Alabama Supreme Court. The Heart of Dixie is the third state behind Oklahoma and Mississippi to approve the method.

The nitrogen hypoxia execution method works by suffocating those who breathe it in. While the gas naturally exists in the air we all breathe, nitrogen accounts for 78%, and oxygen makes up most of the rest, 21%, keeping humans alive. To find out why Smith will soon lose his life, one has to look back 35 years.

In 1988, Pastor Charles Sennett Sr., paid Smith and another man, John Forrest Parker, to kill his wife, Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett, for her insurance money. After police began to suspect the preacher of the crime, he committed suicide. Smith and Parker were both convicted of the woman’s murder, and both were sentenced to death. The state executed Parker in 2010. Smith had been convicted of the crime twice, in 1989 and then in 1996, after it was overturned on appeal in 1992.

While Smith’s attorneys insist there are unresolved issues regarding their client’s case, the governor’s green light makes the execution a go.

Do you think there’s a more ethical way to carry out the sentence?

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