A prisoner in Alabama made history as the first inmate in the world to be put to death with nitrogen gas. Convicted murderer Kenneth Smith was executed on Thursday, after the US Supreme Court denied his legal challenge to stop the execution. Smith officially died at 8:25pm local time. Alabama state governor Kay Ivey stated that Smith had brutally taken the life of 45-year-old Elizabeth Sennett in 1988, and after more than 30 years of legal battles, he has finally faced the consequences for his crimes.
Smith’s execution by nitrogen hypoxia was carried out after his request for an alternative to lethal injection. This method involves using a mask that is clamped tightly to the face, covering the mouth and nose, and then fed with nitrogen gas. With no oxygen present, the body gradually shuts down until death occurs. Smith’s execution came after he survived a botched lethal injection in 2022, which led to a review of the state’s death penalty procedures.
The use of nitrogen gas as a method of execution is highly controversial and had never been used before in the US. Despite Smith’s legal challenge, the Supreme Court declined to halt the execution, with three justices voting to stop it. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one of the justices who voted to halt the execution, expressed concern that Alabama was using Smith as a “guinea pig” to test a method of execution never attempted before. She stressed that the world was watching.
The decision to carry out Smith’s execution by nitrogen gas raises ethical and legal questions about the use of untested methods of execution. The use of nitrogen gas marks a significant development in the history of capital punishment, and it has sparked debates about the humaneness and constitutionality of such methods. The controversy surrounding Smith’s execution by nitrogen gas is likely to fuel further discussions and legal challenges regarding the use of alternative methods of execution in the future.
The execution of Kenneth Smith by nitrogen gas has drawn global attention and ignited debates about the ethical and legal implications of using untested methods of execution. As the first of its kind, Smith’s execution by nitrogen gas raises concerns about the humaneness and constitutionality of such methods, sparking discussions and potential legal challenges in the future.