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Death Row inmate who’ll be killed by brand new method has unique fears

Death Row inmate who’ll be killed by brand new method has unique fears

Death Row prisoner Kenneth Smith is set to be judicially killed by a controversial execution method.

The Death Row inmate who is set to be killed by a new and controversial execution method has opened up about his unique fears, saying he is 'not ready' for what's to come.

Alabama inmate Kenneth Smith was sentenced to Death Row for his crimes in 1989 and again in 1996.

In 1988, the hitman was hired by Charles Sennett, the pastor of the Westside Church of Christ in Sheffield, Alabama, who wanted his wife Elizabeth murdered in exchange for an insurance policy.

Smith and his accomplice, John Parker, were paid $1,000 each for the murder, which saw Elizabeth punched, beaten, bludgeoned, and stabbed over and over again with a six-inch survival knife.

Elizabeth suffered a total of ten stab wounds—eight to her chest and two to her neck—which proved fatal.

Smith was eventually convicted of capital murder.

The hitman, who has survived an execution by lethal injection, is set to be judicially killed on 25 January by a new controversial execution method - nitrogen hypoxia.

The new method involves breathing in nitrogen through a respirator placed over the inmate's nose and mouth - killing them as a result of oxygen deprivation.

Hitman Kenneth Smith was convicted of capital murder.
Alabama Department of Corrections

But when Smith's execution was given the green light last week, it received backlash from various parties.

This included the UN high commissioner for human rights in Geneva, who classed the method as inhumane, while veterinary scientists in the US and Europe compared it with being unacceptable for most small mammals.

Speaking recently to The Guardian via a phone call, Smith said of his imminent return to the death chamber: "I am not ready for that. Not in no kind of way. I’m just not ready, brother."

Amid his failed execution - which happened in November 2022 when prison officials struggled for hours to find a vein - Smith said he has had trouble sleeping due to the 'what-if games you play in the middle of the night'.

Describing a nightmare he'd had during the botched execution, he added: "All I had to do was walk into the room in the dream for it to be overwhelming. I was absolutely terrified.

“It kept coming up. They haven’t given me a chance to heal. I’m still suffering from the first execution and now we’re doing this again.

The Alabama prisoner is set to become the first inmate to be executed using nitrogen hypoxia.

“They won’t let me even have post-traumatic stress disorder – you know, this is ongoing stress disorder.”

His spiritual advisor, Rev Dr Jeff Hood, also told the BBC: "I'm certain that Kenny's not afraid to die, he's made that very clear. But I think he's afraid that he will be even further tortured in the process."

David Morton, professor emeritus of biomedical science and ethics at the University of Birmingham in the UK - who was part of the panel that drew up the commission’s guidelines - has expressed his concern, adding: "It is effective, but it can cause severe distress before unconsciousness and death ensue. In effect it is a suffocation method.

"It is likely also that there will be considerable species variation, and we are not sure what will happen in humans.

"Animal experiments are usually used as a proxy for humans, but not so in this case it seems – the ultimate test is being carried out using a human being."

Featured Image Credit: Alabama Department of Corrections/Getty Stock Images

Topics: US News, Crime