1st Ever Nitrogen Death Execution in History of USA in Alabama; Convict Struggled For Several Minutes
The first person to be executed in the United States using the controversial method of nitrogen gas was Kenneth Eugene Smith, an Alabama death row convict.
Almost thirty years after his conviction in the 1988 murder-for-hire conspiracy of Elizabeth Sennett, 58-year-old Smith was pronounced dead at 8.25pm CT on Thursday at the William C Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama.
Witness to the execution, his spiritual guide Reverend Jeff Hood, described a guy “struggling for their life” for an unprecedented 22 minutes in an interview with reporters.
Officials in Alabama maintain the execution was successful, even though they foresaw that the unproven technique would cause the condemned man to lose consciousness in a matter of seconds and die minutes later.
However, while writhing and trembling on the gurney, witnesses said Smith seemed alert for a few minutes.
“In thirty seconds, we failed to witness anybody passing out,” remarked Rev. Hood. “All we witnessed was a person fighting for their life for a matter of minutes.”
Following a last-ditch effort to have Smith’s execution postponed, the US Supreme Court ultimately rejected the request. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the decision, arguing that the state had used Smith as a “guinea pig” by choosing the unproven approach.