Entries tagged with “Kenneth Smith

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Jan 26, 2024

The World is Watching”: Witnesses Report Kenneth Smith Appeared Conscious, Shook and Writhed” During First-Ever Nitrogen Hypoxia Execution

On January 25, 2024, Alabama exe­cut­ed Kenneth Smith using nitro­gen hypox­ia, a first in American his­to­ry. Though state attor­neys had assured courts that the method would cause uncon­scious­ness in sec­onds,” wit­ness­es report­ed that Mr. Smith appeared awake for sev­er­al min­utes after the nitro­gen gas began. They observed that he shook and writhed” for at least four min­utes before breath­ing heav­i­ly for anoth­er few min­utes. This was the fifth exe­cu­tion that I’ve wit­nessed in Alabama, and I have nev­er seen such a vio­lent reac­tion to an exe­cu­tion,” said media wit­ness Lee…

Executions

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Nov 18, 2022

After U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Lethal Injection Stay, Alabama Tries and Fails to Execute Kenneth Eugene Smith

Kenneth Eugene Smiths November 17 exe­cu­tion was halt­ed after Alabama offi­cials spent an hour try­ing to set intra­venous lines for the lethal injec­tion drugs. Earlier that evening, Smith’s exe­cu­tion had been stayed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, but the U.S. Supreme Court vacat­ed the stay over the dis­sent of three jus­tices. The set­ting of IV lines has been an issue in all 3 exe­cu­tions attempt­ed by Alabama this year, includ­ing the botched exe­cu­tion of Joe Nathan James and the attempt­ed exe­cu­tion of Alan Miller.

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Aug 28, 2023

Alabama Attorney General Seeks Execution with Unprecedented, Untested Method Using Nitrogen Hypoxia

On August 25, 2023, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall asked the state Supreme Court to set a date for Kenneth Smith to be exe­cut­ed using nitro­gen hypox­ia, a method that has nev­er been used in any state. The deci­sion to use this method comes after Alabama botched sev­er­al exe­cu­tions. Since 2018, when Alabama ini­tial­ly autho­rized the use of nitro­gen hypox­ia in cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment, the state has been work­ing to estab­lish a pro­to­col for exe­cu­tions using this method. Alabama ini­tial­ly autho­rized nitro­gen hypox­ia amidst a short­age of lethal injec­tion drugs. Oklahoma…

Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Dec 09, 2022

Alabama Attorney General: There Is No Moratorium” On the Death Penalty

During a December 5, 2022 press con­fer­ence, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (pic­tured) dis­cussed the state’s review of its lethal injec­tion process, reject­ing the media’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of it as a mora­to­ri­um” on exe­cu­tions and urg­ing that the review be car­ried out quick­ly. Governor Kay Ivey announced a top-to-bot­tom review” of the state’s exe­cu­tion pro­to­col on November 21, 2022, after two exe­cu­tions in a two-month peri­od had to be called off when exe­cu­tion­er were unable to set intra­venous lines.

Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Nov 30, 2022

Alabama Drops Lethal Injection for Alan Miller, But May Attempt Execution With Nitrogen Gas

Alabama offi­cials have agreed not to make a sec­ond attempt to exe­cute Alan Miller by lethal injec­tion after the state had to call off his September 22, 2022 exe­cu­tion because of the fail­ure to estab­lish an IV line. If the state seeks to exe­cute Miller in the future, it will use nitro­gen hypox­ia, a method that has nev­er been used for an exe­cu­tion. In the months since Miller’s exe­cu­tion attempt, Alabama also attempt­ed and failed to exe­cute Kenneth Smith. In response to the series of prob­lems, Governor Kay Ivey paused…

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Jul 27, 2023

Alabama exe­cutes James Barber as SCOTUS denies a stay

On July 21, 2023, Alabama death row pris­on­er James Barber was exe­cut­ed two hours after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his motion for a stay in a 6 – 3 deci­sion. This marks the state’s first exe­cu­tion since a series of three botched exe­cu­tions in 2022 and an inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into the Alabama Department of Corrections’ (ADOC) exe­cu­tion protocol. 

Executions

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Dec 15, 2022

Alabama Governor Asks State Supreme Court for More Time to Carry Out Executions

As part of her response to a series of botched exe­cu­tions, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has sent a let­ter to the Alabama Supreme Court ask­ing it to allow the Department of Corrections to extend the time with­in which exe­cu­tions can be car­ried out. Governor Ivey’s let­ter fol­lows her November announce­ment of a top-to-bot­tom review” of the state’s exe­cu­tion pro­ce­dures. The let­ter offered no expla­na­tion of the exe­cu­tion teams’ length delays in plac­ing IV lines, nor has Governor Ivey made any pub­lic state­ments about address­ing that aspect of the state’s recent botched…

Executions

Botched Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Nov 23, 2022

Alabama Governor Halts Executions After Latest in Series of Execution Failures

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (pic­tured) has halt­ed exe­cu­tions and ordered a top-to-bot­tom review” of the state’s exe­cu­tion pro­ce­dures, five days after fail­ures by cor­rec­tions per­son­nel to estab­lish an intra­venous exe­cu­tion line caused Alabama to call off the November 17, 2022 exe­cu­tion of Kenneth Smith.

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Nov 13, 2023

Alabama Schedules A Second Execution for Kenneth Smith, Using Nitrogen Gas for the First Time in U.S. History

On November 8, 2023, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey sched­uled an exe­cu­tion date for Kenneth Smith, mark­ing the first attempt by a U.S. state to use nitro­gen gas in an exe­cu­tion. Mr. Smith was con­vict­ed of the 1988 mur­der-for-hire death of Elizabeth Sennett in Jefferson County, Alabama and has been on death row for near­ly 34 years. Following the state Supreme Court’s 6 – 2 deci­sion green­light­ing Attorney General Steve Marshall’s request for an exe­cu­tion war­rant, Gov. Ivey set a 32-hour exe­cu­tion date time­frame begin­ning on January 25, 2024. Alabama pre­vi­ous­ly attempt­ed to…

Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Oct 19, 2022

Alan Miller Asks Federal Court to Bar Alabama from Second Attempt to Execute Him By Lethal Injection

Alan Eugene Miller has asked fed­er­al courts to bar Alabama from set­ting a sec­ond exe­cu­tion date days after the Alabama Attorney General’s office filed a motion in the state’s Supreme Court to expe­dite a new exe­cu­tion war­rant. The state attempt­ed to exe­cute Miller on September 22, 2022, but called off the exe­cu­tion after fail­ing to estab­lish an intra­venous (IV) line.

Facts & Research

History of the Death Penalty

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Botched Executions

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Lethal Injection

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Dec 07, 2022

As Lethal Injection Turns Forty, States Botch a Record Number of Executions

On December 7, 1982, Texas strapped Charles Brooks to a gur­ney, insert­ed an intra­venous line into his arm, and inject­ed a lethal dose of sodi­um thiopen­tal into his veins, launch­ing the lethal-injec­tion era of American exe­cu­tions. In the pre­cise­ly forty years since, U.S. states and the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment have put 1377 pris­on­ers to death by some ver­sion of the method. Touted as swift and pain­less and a more humane way to die — just as exe­cu­tion pro­po­nents had said near­ly a cen­tu­ry before about the elec­tric chair — the method…

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Foreign Nationals

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Apr 12, 2021

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of April 52021

NEWS (4/​8/​21) — Nevada: The Nevada Supreme Court has grant­ed cap­i­tal defen­dant Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzmans emer­gency motion to stay a pre­ma­ture dead­line the tri­al court had set for his lawyers to file a claim that he is inel­i­gi­ble for the death penal­ty because of intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty. A tri­al court in Reno had set an April 20 dead­line for Martinez-Guzman, four months ear­li­er than the time allot­ted under Nevada law, which per­mits a defen­dant to file up to ten days before the sched­uled start of tri­al. The court’s unan­i­mous deci­sion did…

Executions

Methods of Execution

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Jan 11, 2024

Federal Judge’s Ruling Will Permit Alabama to Execute Kenneth Smith Using Nitrogen Gas

On January 10, 2024, U.S. District Judge Austin Huffaker denied Kenneth Kenny” Smith’s chal­lenge to Alabama’s intend­ed use of nitro­gen gas to exe­cute him. Although Mr. Smith plans to appeal, the rul­ing cur­rent­ly autho­rizes Alabama to use its new, untest­ed method of nitro­gen hypox­ia to exe­cute Mr. Smith on January 25.

Executions

Botched Executions

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Jan 18, 2023

Kenneth Smith Describes Alabama’s Failed Attempt to Execute Him

Alabama death-row pris­on­er Kenneth Smith spent four hours on November 17, 2022 strapped to an exe­cu­tion gur­ney while state pros­e­cu­tors attempt­ed to lift a stay of exe­cu­tion issued by a fed­er­al appeals court and his exe­cu­tion team repeat­ed­ly failed in attempts to set the intra­venous exe­cu­tion line intend­ed to kill him. He was left strapped to the gur­ney after prison offi­cials called off the botched exe­cu­tion, unaware that he was not to be put to death that night.

Facts & Research

Recent Legislative Activity

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Methods of Execution

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Feb 02, 2024

Ohio Officials Divided on Death Penalty as Attorney General Pushes New Bill to Legalize Nitrogen Hypoxia for Executions

On Tuesday, January 30, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced new leg­is­la­tion to autho­rize the use of nitro­gen gas in exe­cu­tions in the state. Joined by sev­er­al Republican state rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Louis Tobin of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, AG Yost said that he is seek­ing to kick­start” Ohio’s death penal­ty after a six-year pause in exe­cu­tions due to dif­fi­cul­ties obtain­ing lethal injec­tion drugs. The sta­tus quo is unac­cept­able,” he said. According to the text of the pro­posed bill, H.B. 392, a pris­on­er could elect lethal injec­tion or nitro­gen hypoxia…

Executions

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Oct 24, 2023

Use of Nitrogen Hypoxia for Alabama Executions Could Endanger Spiritual Advisors and Prison Staff in the Execution Chamber

In August 2023, Alabama released the first-ever exe­cu­tion pro­to­col for nitro­gen hypox­ia, an untest­ed exe­cu­tion method in which pris­on­ers will be put to death by suf­fo­ca­tion as they are forced to breathe pure nitro­gen gas. Alabama’s heav­i­ly redact­ed pro­to­col pro­vides that pris­on­ers will be fit­ted with a mask and breath­ing tube to con­trol the gas, which will slow­ly deprive them of oxy­gen. However, use of this untest­ed method may also pose dan­gers to spir­i­tu­al advi­sors and prison staff in the exe­cu­tion chamber.

Executions

Upcoming Executions

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Nov 14, 2022

Week of Four Scheduled Executions Highlights Continued Concerns With the Use of the Death Penalty

The four exe­cu­tions sched­uled for the week of November 17th high­light cur­rent trends in exe­cu­tions and death sen­tenc­ing and the con­tin­ued use of the death penal­ty against vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions. The pris­on­ers sched­uled to be exe­cut­ed by four states have raised a num­ber of issues, includ­ing pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct, inef­fec­tive assis­tance of coun­sel, dis­crim­i­na­tion against Black jurors, judi­cial over­ride of jury deci­sion­mak­ing, seri­ous men­tal ill­ness, and brain damage.