Judge: New Death Penalty Method Approved

(TheLastPatriotNews.com) – In a historic ruling, a federal judge in Alabama has decided to allow the execution of inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith using nitrogen gas, potentially marking the first use of this method for execution in the United States.

U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker dismissed Smith’s injunction on Wednesday, setting the stage for his execution via nitrogen hypoxia on January 25. Smith’s legal team, anticipating an appeal, has voiced strong concerns about Alabama’s decision, labeling Smith as a “test subject” for an unproven execution method, as reported by The Associated Press.

This method, so far authorized in Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Alabama, could provoke a legal showdown that may reach the U.S. Supreme Court. In Smith’s case, the plan involves placing a respirator-like mask over his face and replacing breathable air with nitrogen, leading to death due to oxygen deprivation.

Smith, 58, has been on death row for his involvement in the 1988 murder-for-hire of Elizabeth Sennett, a preacher’s wife, in Colbert County. Prosecutors state that Smith and another individual, John Forrest Parker, were each paid $1,000 to carry out the murder on her husband’s orders. While Parker was executed in 2010, Smith survived a previous execution attempt in 2022.

The United Nations recently expressed concern about Smith’s upcoming execution, categorizing it as an “untested” method that could expose him to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

Supporters of this method argue that Smith’s death would be painless. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R), speaking last year, emphasized the prolonged wait for justice for the Sennett family, stating, “With today’s order, Alabama is an important step closer to holding Kenneth Smith accountable for the heinous murder-for-hire slaying of an innocent woman, Elizabeth Sennett. Smith has avoided his lawful death sentence for over 35 years, but the court’s rejection today of Smith’s speculative claims removes an obstacle to finally seeing justice done.”

On the other hand, Smith’s attorneys assert that the use of nitrogen gas violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, setting the stage for further legal contention.