Alabama death row inmate asks court to stop November execution

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 9:07 AM CDT|Updated: Nov. 14, 2022 at 3:12 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -This week, Alabama set an execution date for a north Alabama man convicted of killing a pastor’s wife in 1988 in a murder-for-hire. Kenneth Eugene Smith is now asking a federal judge to halt his execution.

Kenneth Eugene Smith is set to die by lethal injection on November 17 but he’s asking a federal judge to stop that because he feels he could be tortured or receive substantial pain if that death sentence is carried out.

Smith’s attorneys cite the recent delayed execution of Joe Nathan James, Jr. in which the Alabama Department of Corrections said it had difficulty finding a vein beforehand. Some advocacy groups say the execution was botched. The lawsuit also references a failed execution attempt on another inmate in 2018.

The lawsuit claims that Smith would have chosen to die by nitrogen hypoxia if he had been informed of that choice.

Robert Dunham with the Death Penalty Information Center feels more death row inmates could file similar lawsuits. Dunham tells us ADOC needs to be more transparent with the execution process.

“This is a policy that people live or die and they are tortured or not tortured. Alabama should not be torturing people and it should be upfront when mistakes are made because if they do not admit their mistakes then they’re not inclined to correct them,” Dunham said.

In response to this lawsuit, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall replied that Smith in essence waited too late to bring up his concerns about lethal injection saying he’s using this as a delaying tactic.

“Smith’s allegations all come third-hand, being based on a press account of a second autopsy performed some days after James’ execution,” the filing said.

The AG is asking the court to dismiss Smith’s complaints.

The state denies a cutdown procedure was used in James’ execution. The response also says “defendants stipulate that they will not employ a cutdown procedure or intramuscular sedation during the execution of Smith”.

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