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‘No Room for Error’: Alabama Set for First-Ever Execution Using Controversial ‘Unproven’ Method

‘No Room for Error’: Alabama Set for First-Ever Execution Using Controversial ‘Unproven’ Method

Prison officials in Alabama are getting closer to using an experimental method for the upcoming execution of a convicted murderer.

The man set to die, 58-year-old Kenneth Eugene Smith, survived an execution attempt last November when his executioners failed to find a vein in his arm as he was slated to die by lethal injection.

The botched execution grabbed headlines nationwide and the state’s prison officials paused the usage of capital punishment.

In addition to Smith surviving the attempt, lethal injection drugs are becoming more difficult to come by for state departments of correction.

Now, the state will experiment with a method that has never been tried before: asphyxiation by nitrogen gas – also called nitrogen hypoxia.

NBC News reported Smith will be the first person prison officials will attempt to execute through the “unproven” method.

No one, especially Smith, knows what to expect when a mask is placed over his face on Jan. 25.

But the son of Smith’s victim hopes the state gets the execution right this time. Michael Sennett’s mother Elizabeth Sennett was murdered by Smith in 1988.

The still-grieving son said of the use of nitrogen hypoxia, “I mean, you can’t really test it on nobody, but I just hope they get it right this time.”

Mrs. Sennett was a preacher’s wife whom Smith agreed to kill for money.

Her family has waited for more than three decades for justice they hope will be carried out in just a few weeks.

The use of nitrogen for executions was approved for use in Alabama prisons in 2018.

Two other states – Mississippi and Oklahoma – have also approved of using the method, although officals in those states have not tested it.

Ideally, Smith will be fitted with a mask that will supply him with oxygen until the time comes to effectively filter in nitrogen which will end his life.

The gas will be used for either 15 minutes straight or until five minutes after Smith is declared dead.

Smith will be accompanied by a spiritual adviser who will not leave his side until the execution attempt is completed.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, whoever sits by Smith during what will likely be his final moments will be required to sign a waiver that acknowledges there is a risk the nitrogen could leak.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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