ATMORE, Ala. — Alabama executed convicted murderer Kenneth Eugene Smith with nitrogen gasoline Thursday, making it the primary state to make use of the brand new methodology to execute a human.

Smith, 58, was declared lifeless at 8:25 p.m. Thursday. He appeared to convulse and shake vigorously for about 4 minutes after the nitrogen gasoline started flowing via his full-face masks within the Alabama jail’s loss of life chamber.

It was one other two to 3 minutes earlier than he appeared to lose consciousness, all whereas gasping for air to the extent that the gurney shook a number of instances. The execution befell within the loss of life chamber on the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore greater than three many years after he was convicted of killing 45-year-old Elizabeth Sennett in a murder-for-hire scheme.

The U.S. Supreme Court docket refused to halt the execution in a choice delivered Thursday night, with the court docket’s three liberal justices dissenting. Justice Sonia Sotomayor famous Alabama’s failure to execute Smith in 2022, citing issues concerning the state’s “hazy” protocol for its new process and the danger of defending inmates from merciless and strange punishment. “This case reveals how that safety could be all too fragile,” she wrote.

Thursday’s execution marked the primary time {that a} new methodology has been utilized in the USA since deadly injection, now probably the most generally used methodology, was launched in 1982. Here is the way it performed out:

Kenneth Eugene Smith, sentenced for murder on Nov. 14, 1989.

Kenneth Eugene Smith, sentenced for homicide on Nov. 14, 1989.

7:53 p.m.

Drapes had been open within the media witness room, the place Smith had 4 witnesses. He wore a full-face masks with a plastic tube operating out of an oblong gap within the concrete block wall of the loss of life chamber related to the masks.

Smith was strapped to the gurney cruciform, along with his arms and physique secured by straps. He raised his head to look into the witness room and appeared to acknowledge the witnesses who had been there for him.

He smiled via the masks and made the signal language signal for “I really like you” and the OK signal along with his left hand. He labored the fingers of his left hand as if counting.

7:55 p.m.

He was allowed to make a last assertion. His phrases had been troublesome to listen to, muffled by the masks.

“Tonight, Alabama induced humanity to take a step backward,” he mentioned. Smith thanked those that supported him via this course of and his earlier execution try.

“I really like all of you,” he mentioned as he ended his assertion. “Thanks for supporting me. I really like all of you.”

7:56 p.m.

The Rev. Jeff Hood, Smith’s religious adviser, approached Smith whereas holding a Bible they usually appeared to wish.

7:57 p.m.

A jail workers member contained in the loss of life chamber approached Smith and checked the seal of the masks. The nitrogen apparently started flowing.

7:57 to eight:01 p.m.

Smith writhed and convulsed on the gurney. He seemed to be absolutely acutely aware when the gasoline started to movement.

He took deep breaths, his physique shaking violently along with his eyes rolling at the back of his head. Hood, standing about 15 ft away, made the signal of the cross a number of instances.

Smith clenched his fists, his legs shook beneath the tightly tucked-in white sheet that lined him from his neck down. He appeared to be gasping for air.

The gurney shook a number of instances throughout this time. Hood eliminated his eyeglasses and wiped away tears.

8:02 p.m.

Smith appeared to lose consciousness. His chest remained nonetheless for about 20 seconds, after which he took a number of giant gasps for air.

There seemed to be saliva or tears on the within of the facemask. A feminine witness for Smith sobbed.

8:06 p.m.

Smith’s gasping appeared to decelerate.

8:07 p.m.

Smith appeared to take his final breath.

8:15 p.m.

The curtains to the witness room had been closed.

In a information convention following the execution, state Division of Corrections Commissioner John Q. Hamm mentioned Smith’s reactions had been “…nothing out of the abnormal.”

“It appeared Smith held his breath for so long as he may, and struggled in opposition to his restraints,” Hamm mentioned. “This was anticipated.”

Hamm mentioned the nitrogen flowed to Smith’s masks for about quarter-hour.

5 media witnesses had been within the room and had been taken to the jail from the media heart about 4 miles away at 6:58 p.m. They remained in a trailer exterior till about 7:47 p.m. once they had been escorted in.

The delay was attributable to difficulties in hooking up the electrocardiogram displays to Smith, Hamm mentioned, including later that Smith didn’t battle with jail system workers as they had been making an attempt to connect the EKG displays to him.

Hood and two jail system workers members stood within the loss of life chamber, about 15 ft away from Smith. They didn’t put on masks.

In a change from earlier executions utilizing deadly injection as the strategy, a workers member didn’t method Smith and test his stage of consciousness when it appeared he had stopped respiration.

Alabama beforehand tried to execute Smith

In 2022, Smith was strapped to the gurney to be executed by lethal injection however jail officers couldn’t achieve entry to his veins earlier than the loss of life warrant expired and the execution course of was halted.

At the moment, the warrant lined 24 hours. Smith’s legal professionals say he was subjected to ache and struggling as workers tried to put the traces.

On Thursday, Smith’s loss of life warrant ran for 30 hours, from midnight till 6 a.m. Friday. That 30-hour window was put in place after the state’s first unsuccessful try to kill Smith.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey confirmed the time of loss of life in a press release about three minutes later.

“After greater than 30 years and try after try to recreation the system, Mr. Smith has answered for his horrendous crimes,” Ivey mentioned. “The execution was lawfully carried out by nitrogen hypoxia, the strategy beforehand requested by Mr. Smith as a substitute for deadly injection.”

Smith convicted for murder-for-hire plot

Smith was convicted of capital homicide on Nov. 14, 1989, within the murder-for-hire plot of Elizabeth Sennett in Colbert County. She was the spouse of the Rev. Charles Sennett, who employed Smith and his co-defendant to kill her in an effort to gather on her life insurance coverage coverage.

Elizabeth Sennett was stabbed to loss of life in her dwelling. Charles Sennett, who was in debt on the time, died by suicide just a few days after her loss of life after it turned obvious that investigators suspected his involvement.

Smith’s unique conviction was overturned, and he was convicted of capital homicide once more in 1996. His co-defendant within the case, John Forrest Parker, was executed in 2010.

Contributing: The Related Press

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Marty Roney at

This text initially appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Alabama executes man with nitrogen gas. How the new method played out

Immediately Information High Newsmaac


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here