This follows a decision from the Supreme Court of Alabama that has allowed state officials to execute a death row inmate using the method, which some view as untested and controversial. Smith will be fitted with a face mask connected to a nitrogen tank intended to replace the oxygen he breathes with nitrogen, effectively killing him through asphyxiation.
It is not the first time Alabama state officials attempted to execute Smith’s death sentence – he has the distinction of being one of just two people to have survived being administered a lethal injection. A previous attempt last year at executing Smith through the said method did not go as planned after multiple attempts to insert an intravenous line into one of the convicted murderer’s veins failed.
The State of Alabama has allowed the use of nitrogen hypoxia as a means of execution since 2018, but has not yet utilized the method in an execution.
However, attorneys for Smith have not given up on their client, arguing that Smith has not yet exhausted all his appeals. The convicted murderer’s lawyers have also objected to the new execution method, saying that it is a possible violation of the Constitution’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishments.” They also argue that it is unconstitutional for officials to attempt to execute Smith a second time.
The ball is now in Republican Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s hands, as the governor will be the one to set the date of Smith’s execution.
Attorney General Steve Marshall called it a “travesty” that the 58-year-old Smith has managed to “avoid his death sentence for nearly 35 years.”
Smith was convicted of killing Elizabeth Sennett in 1988 as part of an insurance scam orchestrated by her husband. Smith, along with another, received $1,000 each to conduct the murder. Elizabeth Sennett’s husband, Church of Christ pastor Charles Sennett, committed suicide when the police began to look at him more closely as a suspect.
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