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Alabama Executes Convicted Murderer With Nitrogen Gas


Alabama executed a convicted murderer with nitrogen gas, making it the first time a U.S. state has used nitrogen gas as an execution method.

AP reported convicted murderer Kenneth Eugene Smith, 58, was pronounced dead on Thursday at an Alabama prison “after breathing pure nitrogen gas through a face mask to cause oxygen deprivation.”

In total, the execution method took 22 minutes from the time the curtain opened to the viewing room until Smith took his last breath.

In his last words, Smith shared, “Tonight Alabama causes humanity backward. … I’m leaving with love, peace, to take a step  and light.”

Smith was sentenced to death after being found guilty in the murder-for-hire killing of 45-year-old Elizabeth Sennett in the 1980s.

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Here’s what AP reported:

Alabama executed a convicted murderer with nitrogen gas Thursday, putting him to death with a first-of-its-kind method that once again placed the U.S. at the forefront of the debate over capital punishment. The state said the method would be humane, but critics called it cruel and experimental.

Officials said Kenneth Eugene Smith, 58, was pronounced dead at 8:25 p.m. at an Alabama prison after breathing pure nitrogen gas through a face mask to cause oxygen deprivation. It marked the first time that a new execution method has been used in the United States since lethal injection, now the most commonly used method, was introduced in 1982.

The execution took about 22 minutes from the time between the opening and closing of the curtains to the viewing room. Smith appeared to remain conscious for several minutes. For at least two minutes, he appeared to shake and writhe on the gurney, sometimes pulling against the restraints. That was followed by several minutes of heavy breathing, until breathing was no longer perceptible.

In a final statement, Smith said, “Tonight Alabama causes humanity to take a step backwards. … I’m leaving with love, peace and light.”

He made the “I love you sign” with his hands toward family members who were witnesses. “Thank you for supporting me. Love, love all of you,” Smith said.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said the execution was justice for the murder-for-hire killing of 45-year-old Elizabeth Sennett in 1988.

Check out what ABC reported:

An Alabama man was executed Thursday evening becoming the first person in the United States to die via nitrogen gas, according to Gov. Kay Ivey.

Kenneth Smith, 58, who was sentenced to death for his role in the 1988 murder-for-hire plot of a preacher’s wife, was originally set to be executed in November 2022 with a lethal injection, but officials were unable to locate a vein and were forced to call it off.

“The execution was lawfully carried out by nitrogen hypoxia, the method previously requested by Mr. Smith as an alternative to lethal injection. At long last, Mr. Smith got what he asked for, and this case can finally be put to rest,” the governor said in a statement Thursday evening.

“I pray that Elizabeth Sennett’s family can receive closure after all these years dealing with that great loss,” Ivey said.

The execution took place at 8:25 p.m.

The United States Supreme Court denied Smith’s last-ditch appeal on Thursday, asking for a stay of the execution, which was set for 7 p.m. ET.



 

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