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Death row inmate set to be first to die with new method already survived botched execution
Featured Image Credit: Alabama Department of Corrections/Pexels

Death row inmate set to be first to die with new method already survived botched execution

Kenneth Smith recalled his first execution attempt as feeling 'like a knife'

A death row inmate in Alabama, who is set to be executed with a new method, will undergo the procedure after already having survived an attempt to end his life.

Kenneth Smith was sentenced to death for his role in the killing of Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett, who lost her life in 1988.

He had been hired as a hitman by pastor Charles Sennett, who wanted his wife murdered in exchange for a large insurance policy, and received $1,000 to conduct the crime.

Kenneth Smith was sentenced to death after the 1988 murder.

Smith's death sentence was overturned on appeal in 1992, but he was sentenced to death again in 1996. He was given an execution date on 17 November, 2022, though legal appeals remained pending right up until his intended death date.

Alabama began to prepare Smith for his execution in November, and by the time the US Supreme Court rejected his final appeal at 10:23pm, he'd already been strapped to a gurney for a number of hours.

Once the executioners knew they could move ahead, they attempted to find a vein to deliver the lethal injection - only they tried multiple times with no success.

They failed to successfully find a vein in his arms, then turned their attention to his neck. Smith told the Atlantic that one of the executioners pushed a large-gauge surgical needle into his chest, just beneath his collarbone, in an attempt to find his subclavian vein.

Smith described the feeling as 'like a knife', despite the executioners having attempted to prevent the pain with an anesthetic.

Smith said: “I kept telling them, call the f**king judge. My case number is 2:22-CV-497. Somebody in this f**king room call the judge or call my lawyer.”

About an hour after the process began, officials decided there was no point trying to access Smith's veins before the death warrant expired at midnight.

Alabama Department of Corrections

In a statement after the incident, governor Kay Ivey said: “Although that justice could not be carried out tonight because of last minute legal attempts to delay or cancel the execution, attempting it was the right thing to do. My prayers are with the victim’s children and grandchildren as they are forced to relive their tragic loss.”

Following the failed attempt, Smith is now set to become the first death row inmate to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has filed a motion with the Alabama Supreme Court on August 25 to seek a new execution date for Smith with the new method, which involves an inmate being deprived of oxygen as they breathe only nitrogen.

The use of nitrogen hypoxia is currently authorized by three states, Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi, but it has never before been used.

Topics: Crime, US News, Health