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Death row inmate allowed to try and be put to death by nitrogen gas after failed lethal injection
Featured Image Credit: Alabama Department of Corrections / Michele Molinari / Alamy Stock Photo

Death row inmate allowed to try and be put to death by nitrogen gas after failed lethal injection

Kenneth Smith was sentenced to death for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot

The US Supreme Court has sided with a death row inmate asking to be killed by nitrogen gas after a failed attempt at lethal injection.

Kenneth Smith was sentenced to death after being convicted for the killing of Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett in a murder-for-hire plot in 1988.

Smith was found to have worked with an accomplice after being hired by Sennett's husband, who was having an affair and had taken out a big insurance policy on his wife.

Last August, Smith filed a lawsuit saying the lethal injection posed an 'intolerable risk of torture, cruelty or substantial pain', arguing he should be granted an alternative execution method.

Kenneth Smith filed a lawsuit claiming he shouldn't die by lethal injection.

A judge dismissed Smith's lawsuit, but in November, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived his case and allowed Smith to file an amended complaint - a move which came on the same day as his scheduled execution.

Smith's lawyers said that Alabama Department of Corrections personnel tried for 'approximately one hour to gain the necessary venous access for the execution' and made 'several attempts at accessing veins in several locations'.

However, the corrections department ultimately called off Smith's execution on that date as it was determined the injection couldn't be carried out before the expiration of the death warrant.

"Mr. Smith's worst fears began to play out much as his federal lawsuit had alleged they would," his lawyers said, claiming that Smith had been subject to 'hours of torture'.

Kenneth Smith was sentenced to death in 1989.
Alabama Department of Corrections

Alabama paused executions after a series of issues with lethal injections, but in February, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey said they should resume following a review.

Smith continues to argue that he shouldn't undergo lethal injection and should instead by executed by nitrogen gas.

He claims the injection would violate his right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Smith won his case at a lower level, so Alabama asked the Supreme Court to reverse the decision as it noted that it hasn't yet finalised the protocols in executions using nitrogen gas.

On Monday (15 May), the Supreme Court rejected Alabama's request to reverse the decision and instead sided with Smith.

Amanda Priest, a spokesperson for Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, said his office is disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision and is 'reviewing the decision to determine the next steps'.

Smith's lawyer has declined to comment on the ruling, though he's previously noted in court papers that Alabama is already planning to execute other death row inmates using lethal gas.

UNILAD has contacted Smith's lawyer, Robert Glass, for comment.

Topics: Crime, US News