To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

New Death Row execution method that’s never been tried before to be used on inmate next week

New Death Row execution method that’s never been tried before to be used on inmate next week

Death Row inmate Kenneth Smith is set to be killed with a controversial execution method.

A controversial new Death Row execution method that’s never been tried before on humans is set to be used on a prisoner next week.

Alabama inmate Kenneth Smith was convicted of capital murder and was sentenced to death for his crimes in 1989 and again in 1996.

He was hired by Charles Sennett, the pastor of the Westside Church of Christ in Sheffield, Alabama, in 1988, who reportedly wanted his wife Elizabeth murdered in exchange for a large insurance policy.

Smith and his friend, John Parker, were each paid $1,000 to conduct the murder.

Elizabeth was ambushed, punched, beaten, bludgeoned, and stabbed over and over again with a six-inch survival knife.

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

Smith has survived three previous executions by lethal injection - which led to the state pausing executions.

In 2023, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a motion to use a new death penalty method of nitrogen hypoxia on Smith.

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

The use of nitrogen hypoxia is authorised by three states (Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi) but has never been used.

The 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'.

This comes after veterinary scientists in the US and Europe saying that nitrogen hypoxia is unacceptable for most small mammals other than pigs.

When Smith's execution was given the green light last week, it received backlash from the UN high commissioner for human rights in Geneva, who said 'suffocation by nitrogen gas' is classed as torture and is inhuman.

Smith's attorney also appealed against the decision, alleging that his client would be used as a 'test subject'.

And on Friday (19 January), he claimed to the judges at the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals that the method was flawed and that the state would attempt 'to execute Kenny Smith under unprecedented circumstances'.

The Alabama prisoner is set to become the first inmate that's executed with a controversial new death penalty method.

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 expressed his concern to The Guardian: "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."

Another member of the European Commission panel said that humans are most likely going to 'process it as an emergency insult leading to acute distress'.

If all goes to plan, Kenneth Smith will be judicially killed on 25 January.

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

Topics: Crime, US News