A doctor who is set to be beside the death row inmate who will be put to death using a controversial new execution method this week has been given a serious warning.
Kenneth Smith was convicted of the murder-for-hire killing of Elizabeth Sennett in both 1989 and 1996, which saw him handed a sentence of capital punishment on both occasions.
Officials have tried to carry out his death sentence a few times - but appeals, a fresh trial and an eleventh hour stay of execution have all delayed it.
Smith has previously survived an attempt to take his life - as his legal team claims he was strapped to an execution gurney for up to four hours while prison officials struggled to find a vein where they could administer the lethal injection in 2022.
Smith says he is 'still suffering' mentally and physically from the failed attempt and is 'not ready' for his impending execution yet.
He is due to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia - which is only authorised by three states; Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi, and none of them have ever used it before.
This method involves breathing in nitrogen through a respirator placed over the inmate's nose and mouth - killing them as a result of oxygen deprivation.
The state attorney's general office said during a December court hearing that the method would 'cause unconsciousness within seconds, and cause death within minutes'.
But apparently, it's not just Smith who needs to be worrying about the ins and outs of the controversial procedure - as anyone who is in the execution chamber should also be concerned.
Smith's spiritual advisor, Rev Dr Jeff Hood, has claimed that officials plan to position him around three feet away from the death row inmate amid fears that the nitrogen hypoxia could kill him too.
He told the Alabama Reflector that he will share the Eucharist with Smith before entering the chamber and anoint his head with oil until a mask is placed on his face and prayers begin.
Dr Hood has expressed concern that himself and any other officials who are present are putting themselves at risk.
If the hose became detached while administering the nitrogen into the murderer's mask, the gas would leak into the room and could have adverse affects on every single member of the execution team.
There will reportedly be gas sensors in the room as a safety precaution, according to a waiver signed by Dr Hood, but the clergyman is still anxious about 'working to secure his safety in the chamber'.
He said: "You’re talking about a situation that they just have no parameters. There’s no regulations. There’s just not a plan."
Speaking to the BBC, Dr Hood explained he would be in close proximity to Smith when he is put to death.
"I'll be a number of feet from him, I have been warned repeatedly by various medical experts that I'm risking my life to do this," he said.
"If there's any sort of leak in the hose, if there's any sort of leak from the mask, from the seal around his face, it could certainly lead to nitrogen leaking into the room."
He added he's certain that 'Kenny's not afraid to die', but he thinks he is scared that he will be 'even further tortured in the process'.
Nitrogen is a colourless, odourless gas and therefore hard to detect.
It makes up about 78 percent of the air inhaled by humans - but it is harmless when breathed with the right balance of oxygen.Featured Image Credit: Alabama Department of Corrections/Screenshot/Alabama Reflector