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Creator of euthanasia pods admits he's 'anxious' about today's 'untested' death row execution

Creator of euthanasia pods admits he's 'anxious' about today's 'untested' death row execution

The man who invented a euthanasia pod has said he's concerned about the death row execution

Death row inmate Kenneth Smith is scheduled to be executed today (25 January) for the murder-for-hire of Elizabeth Sennett in 1988.

Smith and another man, John Forrest Parker, were sentenced to death for the murder of Sennett after she was stabbed 10 times and died in her home.

Parker was executed by lethal injection in 2010 while Smith had been set for lethal injection in 2022, but the execution team could not find a vein to inject.

Smith's method of execution was then changed to nitrogen hypoxia, where a person is killed by asphyxiation via nitrogen gas.

The state of Alabama has said in court filing that it expects Smith to fall unconscious within seconds and die within minutes, but a number of medical professionals have raised concerns over potential ways for the execution method to go wrong and become inhumane.

Kenneth Smith is scheduled to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia, but some medical professionals have raised concerns over the execution method.
Alabama Department of Corrections

One of those voicing concern is Dr Philip Nitschke, who invented a 'euthanasia pod' which people can use to take their own lives via nitrogen hypoxia.

Dr Nitschke's Sarco Pod can be filled with nitrogen at the push of a button, with the idea being unconsciousness within one minute and death within 10.

The pod also contains an emergency button and escape hatch in case the occupant changes their mind once inside.

He has claimed in the past that it is a 'peaceful, reliable, drug-free' method of death, and has since spoken to the New York Times on the use of nitrogen hypoxia as a method of execution for death row inmate Smith.

Dr Nitschke was called to testify by lawyers representing Smith and claims he has seen around 50 people die by nitrogen hypoxia.

He said that when he examined the chamber Smith's execution will be carried out in and the mask that will be used, he became 'anxious' as he could not promise the death row inmate that everything would go as planned.

Dr Philip Nitschke, who invented a euthanasia pod which kills people by nitrogen hypoxia, said he was 'anxious' about things going wrong with the untested execution method.
David Mariuz/Getty Images

Dr Nitschke said the use of a mask meant there was a greater chance of a leak which would prolong the execution, and there could be 'substantial suffering' if things went wrong.

Dr Nitschke went on to call Alabama's execution method of nitrogen hypoxia a 'quick and nasty' attempt which could cause vomiting or a gas leak.

There will be other people in the room with Smith during his execution and they are at risk in the event of a leak, with Reverend Jeff Hood saying that to be in the execution room he has had to sign a waiver with the prison that warns about the hazards of nitrogen gas.

Family members of Elizabeth Sennett have said they plan to be present for the execution, with her son Michael telling NBC he does not mind the method of execution as long as Smith dies, saying that he has been in prison 'twice as long as I knew my mom'.

Featured Image Credit: Exit International/Alabama Department of Correction

Topics: Crime, US News, Death Row