Atmore — Alabama made history by becoming the first state to utilize nitrogen hypoxia for executing a convicted killer. This milestone was achieved when Kenneth Eugene Smith’s death sentence was carried out at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility.
Smith was convicted of brutally beating 45-year-old Elizabeth Sennett to death with a fireplace poker over three decades ago. He was among several death row inmates who opted for nitrogen hypoxia over lethal injection as his method of execution.
Following the legal clearance from the U.S. Supreme Court to proceed with Smith’s execution, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey made the decision not to exercise her clemency powers in this case. She directed Corrections Commissioner John Hamm to move forward with Smith’s lawfully imposed death sentence for the 1988 capital murder of Sennett.
“After more than 30 years and attempt after attempt to game the system, Mr. Smith has answered for his horrendous crimes,” Governor Ivey stated following the execution. She defended the process and pointed out that Smith had chosen his method of execution. Ivey then shifted her focus to the victim and the long wait for justice for her family.
“The execution was lawfully carried out by nitrogen hypoxia, the method previously requested by Mr. Smith as an alternative to lethal injection,” Ivey said. “At long last, Mr. Smith got what he asked for, and this case can finally be put to rest. I pray that Elizabeth Sennett’s family can receive closure after all these years dealing with that great loss.”
Smith’s time of death was 8:25 p.m.