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Disturbing final words of inmate put to death by new controversial Death Row execution
Featured Image Credit: Alabama Department of Corrections /Getty Stock Photo

Disturbing final words of inmate put to death by new controversial Death Row execution

The final words of Kenneth Smith before he was executed are rather disturbing.

The disturbing final words of a death row inmate who was killed by a new execution method have been revealed.

Kenneth Eugene Smith was sentenced to death by nitrogen hypoxia on Thursday (January 25) at 8.25pm CST at the Holman Correction Facility Center in Alabama.

He was convicted of capital murder for the murder-for-hire of Elizabeth Sennett in 1988.

Smith, along with John Forrest Parker, was convicted of the crime after he was allegedly hired by Elizabeth's husband, Charles Sennett, to kill her to claim a large insurance policy payout.

Elizabeth was stabbed ten times in her home, suffering eight wounds to the chest and two to the neck - which proved to be fatal.

Parker was executed in 2010 via lethal injection.

After spending 36 years on death row, Smith was taken to be executed by lethal injection in November 2022 - but the attempt was botched.

After Smith was strapped to a gurney, executioners struggled to find a vein and were then forced to abandon the attempt after the state's death warrant expired at midnight.

In August 2023, a motion was filed with the Alabama Supreme Court to execute Smith via nitrogen hypoxia - a method of execution that is authorised by three states (Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi) but had never been performed before.

Kenneth Smith.
Alabama Department of Corrections

The method involves the inmate breathing in nitrogen gas through a respirator placed over their nose and mouth - killing them as a result of oxygen deprivation.

According to the Alabama attorney general's office, the method would 'cause unconsciousness within seconds and cause death within minutes'.

However, lawyers representing Smith claimed it would violate his rights under the US Constitution's Eighth Amendment, which protects people against 'cruel and unusual' punishments.

Appealing the decision, Smith also called for the state to 'stop [the execution]', telling the BBC: "Panic attacks hit regularly... This is just a small part of what I've been dealing with daily. Torture, basically."

But on January 24, the US Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal and also denied his request to halt the execution.

Before the final dose was administered, Smith gave his last words.

"Tonight Alabama causes humanity to take a step backwards," he said.

Smith had been on death row for 36 years.

"I'm leaving with love, peace, and light. Thank you for supporting me. Love all of you," he added before making a heart sign to his wife.

Eyewitness statements from reporters present shed more light on what happened during the execution.

Marty Roney of the Montgomery Advertiser said that, between 7:57 and 8:01pm, 'Smith writhed and convulsed on the gurney'.

"He took deep breaths, his body shaking violently with his eyes rolling in the back of his head." he added.

"Smith clenched his fists, his legs shook … He seemed to be gasping for air. The gurney shook several times."

The execution lasted 22 minutes in total, according to those present.

Topics: US News, Crime, Death Row, News