(WatchDogReport.org) – In a historic move, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has scheduled an execution date for Kenneth Eugene Smith, an inmate who, after surviving a botched lethal injection last year, has elected to face death via nitrogen hypoxia. This method, untried in any state thus far, will initiate a thirty-hour countdown to execution, starting at the stroke of midnight on January 25, 2024.
Governor Ivey relayed this decision in a letter addressed to John Hamm, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner. The prison has until 6 a.m. following the start time to complete the execution process. The Alabama Supreme Court sanctioned this procedure in a 6-2 ruling last week, following a request from Attorney General Steve Marshall for an execution warrant for Smith.
Smith was previously slated for execution on November 17, 2022. However, complications arose when medical professionals encountered difficulties in establishing the necessary intravenous connections for the lethal injection.
The impending execution will serve as a precedent, marking the first instance of nitrogen hypoxia being used in the United States. Oklahoma and Mississippi are the only states permitted to use nitrogen gas for execution but have yet to utilize this method.
The proposed technique will necessitate the inmate being deprived of oxygen, compelling him to breathe solely nitrogen. Proponents argue that the method is painless, while detractors liken it to human experimentation. Smith’s legal team has objected to this method, labeling it “experimental” in a September court filing.
Smith received his death sentence following his involvement in the 1988 contract killing of Elizabeth Sennett. Her husband, a pastor seeking a way out of his debts through her life insurance, orchestrated the murder. The pastor, Rev. Charles Sennett, was also embroiled in an extramarital affair.
In the words of Attorney General Marshall, Sennett plotted his wife’s murder as a “cowardly” attempt to evade his financial obligations and marital responsibilities. Smith and his accomplice, John Parker, received a payment of $1,000 to fulfill the nefarious plan, which culminated in the brutal and fatal assault of Elizabeth Sennett. Parker was executed in 2010.
In her closing remarks to Commissioner Hamm, Governor Ivey asserted that she retains the power to issue a reprieve or commutation before the execution. However, she has “no plans to grant clemency in this case.”
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