NewsPrisoner to be executed using a new method. It's used in poultry slaughter

Prisoner to be executed using a new method. It's used in poultry slaughter

Smith was convicted of murder.
Smith was convicted of murder.
Images source: © Alabama Department of Corrections, Pixabay | TayebMEZAHDIA

8:17 PM EDT, November 3, 2023

The Supreme Court in the state of Alabama has approved the execution of a convict through an untested method. The prisoner, Kenneth Smith, a 58-year-old murderer, is set to be suffocated with nitrogen, a method used in industrial poultry slaughter.

On Wednesday, Alabama's Supreme Court, in a 6 to 2 vote, ruled that the state could implement the death sentence on the convict using nitrogen gas. This method has the go-ahead in three US states - Alabama, Oklahoma, and Mississippi, but it has never before been used to execute a convict.

The first prisoner destined for death by nitrogen is the convicted murderer Kenneth Smith. As reported by American media, the original execution was scheduled for November 2022 via lethal injection (known as the "angel shot").

The execution didn't take place because executioners were unable to find a suitable vein for needle insertion. The process of trying to locate a vein took several hours, with Smith restrained in a wheelchair and his head tilted downwards to aid prison guards.

Ultimately, the Alabama Department of Corrections abandoned the execution plan. However, this did not signify a reprieve for Smith. The authorities are now seeking a new method to execute him.

The new execution method: What does it involve?

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, a U.S.-based center offering information about death sentences, execution by nitrogen suffocation results in death through oxygen deprivation. While inhaling pure nitrogen, the convict's brain and body are denied oxygen.

Nitrogen makes up nearly 80 percent of the air we breathe, but when inhaled exclusively, it becomes lethal - explains the DPIC.

Some argue that this method will be painless, while critics liken it to human experimentation. It's worth noting that this technique has previously been used in industrial poultry slaughter and has been condemned by animal rights activists as cruel.

Murder for $1000

In 1988, Kenneth Smith took part in the brutal murder of Elizabeth Sennett. The act was commissioned by the victim's husband, a pastor, who was swamped by debts and hoped to cash in on his wife's death insurance money.

Smith was not the sole perpetrator. He collaborated with John Forrest Parker. The victim's husband paid both men $1000 each for the murder.

Both the client and the murderers were quickly apprehended by the police. Just a few days after his arrest, Elizabeth Sennett's husband committed suicide while John Parker was executed in 2010.

The exact date of Kenneth Smith's execution remains uncertain. It will be determined by the governor in due course.

Episode 190: The Murder of Liz Sennett

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