Inmate Kenneth Smith slammed first-ever nitrogen gas execution as ‘step backward’ in final words before death in Alabama

Inmate Kenneth Smith slammed first-ever nitrogen gas execution as ‘step backward’ in final words before death in Alabama

A CONVICTED murderer spoke about love and support in his final words before being put to death in the first-ever execution by nitrogen gas.

Kenneth Eugene Smith, 58, was pronounced dead at 8:25 pm after breathing pure nitrogen gas through a face mask to cause oxygen deprivation.

Inmate Kenneth Smith slammed first-ever nitrogen gas execution as ‘step backward’ in final words before death in Alabama
Kenneth Eugene Smith, 58, was executed via nitrogen gas in a new execution method since the lethal injection
AFP or licensors
Smith was convicted for a 1988 murder-for-hire plot but the state couldn’t execute him with a lethal injection
Lethal injection was introduced in the US in 1982
AP:Associated Press

“Tonight, Alabama causes humanity to take a step backward,” he said in his final words.

“Humanity rose up….I am leaving with love, peace, and light…..I love you. Thank you for supporting me. I love all of you.”

This marks the first time a new execution method has been used in the US since the introduction of the lethal injection in 1982.

Smith was convicted in 1988 for a murder-for-hire and was scheduled to be executed in 2022, however, a lethal injection couldn’t be used after authorities couldn’t connect an IV line.

Nitrogen gas was decided after a last-minute legal battle in which Smith’s attorneys argued the state was trying to make him a test subject for the experimental execution method.

Witnesses said Smith struggled to breathe as the gas flowed through his face mask.

He began writhing and thrashing for about two to four minutes before breathing heavily for another five.

The state said the nitrogen cas would cause unconsciousness within seconds and death within minutes, calling it “the most painless and humane method of execution known to man.”

Smith’s legal team said the method could violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment, however, federal courts rejected Smith’s request to block it.

The latest ruling came on Thursday night from the US Supreme Court.


“Having failed to kill Smith on its first attempt, Alabama has selected him as its ‘guinea pig’ to test a method of execution never attempted before,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who along with two other justices dissented.

“The world is watching.”

Doctors and organizations raised concerns with the method, including Smith’s attorneys, asking the Supreme Court to stay the execution.

“There is little research regarding death by nitrogen hypoxia. When the State is considering using a novel form of execution that has never been attempted anywhere, the public has an interest in ensuring the State has researched the method adequately and established procedures to minimize the pain and suffering of the condemned person,” wrote Smith’s attorneys.

Sotomayor wrote in her dissent that Alabama has kept its execution protocol a secret, only releasing heavily redacted information.

She said Smith should’ve been allowed to get evidence about the execution protocol to proceed with his legal challenge.

“That information is important not only to Smith, who has an extra reason to fear the gurney, but to anyone the State seeks to execute after him using this novel method,” she wrote before the execution.

“Twice now this Court has ignored Smith’s warning that Alabama will subject him to an unconstitutional risk of pain. I sincerely hope that he is not proven correct a second time.”

Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson also dissented.


Before the execution, Smith spent time with family members and his spiritual advisor, Reverand Jeff Hood.

His last meal was a T-bone steak, hash browns, toast, and eggs with A1 steak sauce.

“He’s terrified at the torture that could come,” Hood told the Associated Press.

“But he’s also at peace. One of the things he told me is he is finally getting out.”

Smith was one of two men convicted for the murder-for-hire killing of Elizabeth Sennett in 1988.

Prosecutors say he and the other man were paid $1,000 each to kill Sennett on orders from her husband, who was in debt and wanted to collect on her life insurance.

Sennett’s son, Charles Sennett Jr., told ABC affiliate WAAY-TV that Smith “has to pay for what he’s done.”

“And some of these people out there say, ‘Well, he doesn’t need to suffer like that.’ Well, he didn’t ask Mama how to suffer?” said Sennett.

“They just did it. They stabbed her — multiple times.”


Anti-death penalty activists protested against Smith’s execution, calling it cruel and unusual punishment[/caption]


Several of them protested outside the correctional facility where the execution took place[/caption]

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