death penalty problems explainer
The US Supreme Court has declined a plea to stop Alabama from carrying out the country’s first-ever nitrogen-gas execution, scheduled for Thursday. The court was hearing a matter related to the death penalty awarded to convicted murderer Kenneth Smith.
The ruling has removed one of the last obstacles to the controversial scheduled execution. The state has 30 hours starting on Thursday to carry out the procedure on Smith, barring an eleventh-hour move from another court or state officials. X user Josh Gauntt elaborates.
The 58-year-old is on death row for the murder of Elizabeth Sennett in 1988. Reports suggest Christian minister Charles Sennett hired the convict and another person to kill his wife Elizabeth after he had taken out a large insurance policy in her name.
Kenneth Smith still suffering from the first execution
The victim is reported to have been stabbed multiple times and also beaten with a blunt object. Her husband later committed suicide and Smith’s accomplice – sentenced to death for the brutal murder – was executed in 2010.
Speaking to the Guardian a few days back, Kenneth Smith said he wasn’t ready to return to the death chamber. On November 22, he was strapped to a gurney for hours as officials failed to inject him with lethal drugs. Reports say the convict is now facing PTSD.
“They have not given me a chance to heal … I am still suffering from the first execution and now we are doing this again. They won’t let me even have post-traumatic stress disorder – you know, this is ongoing stress disorder,” Smith noted on the call.
Nitrogen hypoxia likely to involve some suffering
The US state is scheduled to carry out the controversial execution on January 25 at Holman Correctional Facility. Called ‘nitrogen hypoxia’, the process will involve Smith being made to inhale pure nitrogen through a gas mask to cause fatal oxygen deprivation.
Joel Zivot, an associate professor in anaesthesiology at Emory University’s School of Medicine, said under certain circumstances, nitrogen can lead to death, according to CNBC. But he noted that Smith is likely to suffer an intensely painful death even if the process succeeds.
In fact, the pure nitrogen gas might even induce a seizure in the convict, the expert claimed, adding the process may induce vomiting, causing the person to choke to death. Moreover, he said if the mask is not secured well, the execution team might even get harmed.