Alabama’s Supreme Court has given the OK for the State to execute an inmate using nitrogen hypoxia.
This is a first in the United States.
Both Oklahoma and Mississippi have allowed the use of the execution method but have never used it on anyone.
The State plans to use the execution method for Kenneth Eugene Smith for killing Elizabeth Sennett back in 1988.
The decision has left many conflicted.
Some are happy that the murderer will be executed, while others fear the State is using Smith as a test subject for this brand-new execution method.
A divided Alabama Supreme Court on Wednesday said the state can execute an inmate with nitrogen gas, a method that hasn't been used to carry out a death sentence. https://t.co/oM1mpBW17b
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 2, 2023
Fox News shares more here:
“The state seeks to make Mr. Smith the test subject for the first ever attempted execution by an untested and only recently released protocol for executing condemned people by the novel method of nitrogen hypoxia,” Smith’s attorneys wrote in a September court filing.
“We are disappointed in this decision and will continue to pursue the enforcement of Mr. Smith’s rights through the judicial process,” Smith’s attorneys wrote in a statement to Fox News Digital. “It is noteworthy that two justices dissented from this Order. Like the eleven jurors who did not believe Mr. Smith should be executed, we remain hopeful that those who review this case will see that a second attempt to execute Mr. Smith — this time with an experimental, never-before-used method and with a protocol that has never been fully disclosed to him or his counsel — is unwarranted and unjust.”
Under the proposed method, the inmate would be forced to breathe only nitrogen, depriving them of oxygen needed to maintain bodily functions and causing them to die. Nitrogen makes up 78% of the air inhaled by humans and is harmless when inhaled with oxygen. While proponents of the new method have theorized that it would be painless, opponents have likened it to human experimentation.
The method of execution described sounds like a fancy version of suffocating an individual.
Perhaps it’s better to think of it as carbon monoxide inhalation, which is painless and usually undetectable.
The ACLU has come out in opposition to the execution:
We are calling on Gov. Ivey and AG Steve Marshall to call off the execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith by nitrogen hypoxia, a method of execution that deprives an individual of oxygen and suffocates them. Mr. Smith will be the first person in the world executed by this method. pic.twitter.com/A9APUtf1Tw
— ACLU of Alabama (@ACLUAlabama) November 2, 2023
In August, I filed the first motion set an execution by means of nitrogen hypoxia in American history. This afternoon the Alabama Supreme Court granted that motion. More litigation is sure to come, but we are one step closer to seeing justice done for Liz Sennett. #justice pic.twitter.com/Z6t1ViObZB
— Anderson for Alabama (@andersonforAL) November 1, 2023
The Associated Press News shares more on the story:
The all-Republican court made its 6-2 decision without comment on Wednesday. The justices granted the state attorney general’s request for an execution warrant for Kenneth Eugene Smith, one of two men convicted in the 1988 murder-for-hire slaying of Elizabeth Sennett in northwestern Alabama.
The order did not specify the execution method, but the attorney general indicated in court filings that it intends to use nitrogen to put Smith to death. The exact date of the execution will be set later by Gov. Kay Ivey.
The decision moves Alabama closer to being the first state to attempt an execution with nitrogen gas, although there is likely to be additional litigation over the proposed new execution method. Three states — Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi — have authorized nitrogen hypoxia for executions but none have tried to use it.
I’ll be interested to see whether this execution is carried out.
As you may know, there has been much debate on execution in recent years.
Many times, the execution is put off so long that many people forget about the case.
Like this instance where the case happened 35 years ago.
Let me know what you think in the comments.
Is this form of execution inhumane? Should we execute people at all?