- Smith, 57, has been on death row since 1996 for a gruesome 1988 murder
- Last year, prison nurses tried to execute him with the lethal injection but failed
- He sued, saying it would violate his rights to be subjected to it again
- Alabama Supreme Court today agreed that he will be executed instead with nitrogen hypoxia
Alabama death row inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith is ‘disappointed’ with the state Supreme Court‘s decision today that he will be executed via nitrogen gas, after trying unsuccessfully to get out of capital punishment following a botched attempt with the lethal injection.
Smith was sentenced to death in 1996 after admitting the murder-for-hire killing of a pastor’s wife who was beaten and stabbed in 1988.
He had been hired by the woman’s husband to kill her as part of a life insurance scam. The pastor who ordered the hit killed himself before he could be arrested.
For 34 years, he awaited execution until last November but they struggled to find a vein, keeping Smith on a gurney for several hours while they ‘poked and prodded him’.
His lawyers argued that he shouldn’t have to face it again – so shouldn’t be executed at all.
The court disagreed bar two justices today, instead approving the nitrogen hypoxia sentence.
Smith was sentenced to death in 1996 after admitting the murder-for-hire killing of a pastor’s wife who was beaten and stabbed in 1988
‘We are disappointed in this decision and will continue to pursue the enforcement of Mr. Smith’s rights through the judicial process.
‘It is noteworthy that two justices dissented from this Order.
‘Like the eleven jurors who did not believe Mr. Smith should be executed, we remain hopeful that those who review this case will see that a second attempt to execute Mr. Smith – this time with an experimental, never-before-used method and with a protocol that has never been fully disclosed to him or his counsel – is unwarranted and unjust,’ Smith’s lawyers said in a statement.
Smith sued, claiming he shouldn’t have to be subjected to such pain again.
As an alternative, the Supreme Court has allowed the Attorney General’s office to move forward with an alternative, nitrogen hypoxia execution.
While it has been legal since 2018, it has not yet been used on any inmate. A date for the nitrogen gas execution has not yet been set.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement: ‘Elizabeth Sennett’s family has waited an unconscionable 35 years to see justice served.
Prosecutors said Smith and John Forrest Parker were each paid $1,000 to kill Elizabeth Sennett for husband Charles Sennett Sr., who was deeply in debt and wanted to collect on insurance
Elizabeth Sennett, 45, was found dead on March 18, 1988, in the couple’s home in Alabama’s Colbert County. She had been stabbed eight times in the chest and once on each side of neck
‘Today, the Alabama Supreme Court cleared the way for Kenneth Smith to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia for the 1988 murder-for-hire of Elizabeth.
‘Though the wait has been far too long, I am grateful that our talented capital litigators have nearly gotten this case to the finish line.’
Smith and his attorneys have not yet reacted to the decision.
Smith and fellow defendant John Forrest Parker took $1,000 each from Sennett’s husband to carry out her murder.
He was drowning in debt, and wanted to kill her to collect on her life insurance policy.
The two men beat and stabbed her viciously in her home, and were soon arrested.
Sennett’s husband killed himself a week after her death as suspicion turned to him. Parker was executed in 2010.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall celebrated the decision today