Alabama inmate will be executed today with a brand new method

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By Asiya Ali

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An Alabama prisoner will be executed today with a controversial death penalty method.

Hitman Kenneth Eugene Smith was one of two men convicted of capital murder for the murder-for-hire killing of a preacher’s wife, Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett.

Prosecutors said Smith was one of two men who were each paid $1,000 by Charles Sennett, the pastor of the Westside Church of Christ in Sheffield, Alabama in 1988, to forcefully take his wife's life, per CBS News.

Per Fox News, the reverend asked the inmate and his friend, John Parker, to carry out the murder as he was in debt and wanted to collect on insurance. In addition to this, Sennett was reportedly having an extramarital affair at the time.

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Kenneth Eugene Smith. Credit: Alabama Department of Corrections.

Elizabeth was stabbed over and over again with a six-inch survival knife and suffered a total of ten stab wounds - eight to her chest and two to her neck - which resulted in her death.

The victim's husband took his own life after the gruesome murder as investigators began to focus on him as a possible suspect, per court documents obtained by Daily Mail.

At the trial, Smith confessed to roughing Elizabeth up but denied intending to kill her. The jury voted by 11-1 to give him a life sentence, but they were overruled by the judge who sent him to death row.

Over three decades later, Alabama’s Department of Corrections prepared to execute Smith with a lethal injection. However, the inmate ended up spending four hours on the gurney as prison officials tried unsuccessfully to find a vein.

By the time officials admitted defeat and called off the execution, Smith's body was pierced with puncture holes.

Now, just 14 months later, Smith will find himself in the same position - except this time the protocol is different as he will be put to death by nitrogen hypoxia on Thursday (January 25).

This untested method marks a significant departure from the standard use of lethal injection, which was first introduced in 1982. It involves forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, which drains them of oxygen and eventually kills them.

This style of execution was first authorized in Alabama in 2018 during a shortage of drugs used to carry out lethal injections, but the state has not employed the method to carry out a death sentence. Other states like Oklahoma and Mississippi have also permitted nitrogen hypoxia as a method but have not utilized it.

State officials have argued that nitrogen gas will quickly induce unconsciousness and subsequent death, however, critics - as well as Smith's own legal team - contend that this unknown territory is equivalent to human experimentation.

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Kenneth Eugene Smith will be executed today with nitrogen hypoxia. Credit: Johannes Kroemer / Getty

Before his imminent return to the death cell, Smith spoke to The Guardian from Holman prison, using his allocated 15-minute phone call to describe how he feels about his predicament, stating: "I am not ready for that. Not in no kind of way. I'm just not ready, brother."

Following the traumatic failed execution, the prisoner has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He is now prescribed a combination of medications, including migraine control drugs, and his prison psychiatrist has documented symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, and depression - common indicators of severe trauma.

He told the outlet that he has had sleepless nights because of frequent nightmares and the "what-if games you play in the middle of the night," following the first execution attempt in November 2022. "All I had to do was walk into the room in the dream for it to be overwhelming. I was absolutely terrified. It kept coming up," he said.

Explaining why he feels his execution should be postponed, he stated: "They haven’t given me a chance to heal. I’m still suffering from the first execution and now we’re doing this again. They won’t let me even have post-traumatic stress disorder – you know, this is ongoing stress disorder."

Kenneth Eugene Smith will be executed on Thursday (January 25).

Featured image credit: Johannes Kroemer / Getty

Alabama inmate will be executed today with a brand new method

vt-author-image

By Asiya Ali

Article saved!Article saved!

An Alabama prisoner will be executed today with a controversial death penalty method.

Hitman Kenneth Eugene Smith was one of two men convicted of capital murder for the murder-for-hire killing of a preacher’s wife, Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett.

Prosecutors said Smith was one of two men who were each paid $1,000 by Charles Sennett, the pastor of the Westside Church of Christ in Sheffield, Alabama in 1988, to forcefully take his wife's life, per CBS News.

Per Fox News, the reverend asked the inmate and his friend, John Parker, to carry out the murder as he was in debt and wanted to collect on insurance. In addition to this, Sennett was reportedly having an extramarital affair at the time.

wp-image-1263235284 size-full
Kenneth Eugene Smith. Credit: Alabama Department of Corrections.

Elizabeth was stabbed over and over again with a six-inch survival knife and suffered a total of ten stab wounds - eight to her chest and two to her neck - which resulted in her death.

The victim's husband took his own life after the gruesome murder as investigators began to focus on him as a possible suspect, per court documents obtained by Daily Mail.

At the trial, Smith confessed to roughing Elizabeth up but denied intending to kill her. The jury voted by 11-1 to give him a life sentence, but they were overruled by the judge who sent him to death row.

Over three decades later, Alabama’s Department of Corrections prepared to execute Smith with a lethal injection. However, the inmate ended up spending four hours on the gurney as prison officials tried unsuccessfully to find a vein.

By the time officials admitted defeat and called off the execution, Smith's body was pierced with puncture holes.

Now, just 14 months later, Smith will find himself in the same position - except this time the protocol is different as he will be put to death by nitrogen hypoxia on Thursday (January 25).

This untested method marks a significant departure from the standard use of lethal injection, which was first introduced in 1982. It involves forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, which drains them of oxygen and eventually kills them.

This style of execution was first authorized in Alabama in 2018 during a shortage of drugs used to carry out lethal injections, but the state has not employed the method to carry out a death sentence. Other states like Oklahoma and Mississippi have also permitted nitrogen hypoxia as a method but have not utilized it.

State officials have argued that nitrogen gas will quickly induce unconsciousness and subsequent death, however, critics - as well as Smith's own legal team - contend that this unknown territory is equivalent to human experimentation.

wp-image-1263245984 size-full
Kenneth Eugene Smith will be executed today with nitrogen hypoxia. Credit: Johannes Kroemer / Getty

Before his imminent return to the death cell, Smith spoke to The Guardian from Holman prison, using his allocated 15-minute phone call to describe how he feels about his predicament, stating: "I am not ready for that. Not in no kind of way. I'm just not ready, brother."

Following the traumatic failed execution, the prisoner has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He is now prescribed a combination of medications, including migraine control drugs, and his prison psychiatrist has documented symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, and depression - common indicators of severe trauma.

He told the outlet that he has had sleepless nights because of frequent nightmares and the "what-if games you play in the middle of the night," following the first execution attempt in November 2022. "All I had to do was walk into the room in the dream for it to be overwhelming. I was absolutely terrified. It kept coming up," he said.

Explaining why he feels his execution should be postponed, he stated: "They haven’t given me a chance to heal. I’m still suffering from the first execution and now we’re doing this again. They won’t let me even have post-traumatic stress disorder – you know, this is ongoing stress disorder."

Kenneth Eugene Smith will be executed on Thursday (January 25).

Featured image credit: Johannes Kroemer / Getty