Find out “What Was Alabama Prisoner Kenneth Smith Executed For?” Kenneth Smith, the individual convicted in the 1988 murder-for-hire of a preacher’s wife, was executed at Holman Prison in Atmore on Thursday.
In a groundbreaking development, the state employed nitrogen gas for the execution, marking the inaugural use of this method in the United States.
Originally scheduled for lethal injection in 2022, Smith’s execution was abruptly halted at the last moment due to the inability to establish an IV line.
Finally, on January 25, 2024, Smith was executed, becoming the first person in the United States to undergo execution by nitrogen poisoning.
For further insights into his case and the execution, continue reading.
Kenneth Smith: Quick Facts Wiki/Bio
|Kenneth Eugene Smith
|Date of Birth
|July 4, 1965
|Place of Birth
|Date of Death
|January 25, 2024
|Place of Death
|William C. Holman Correctional Facility, Atmore, Alabama
|Method of Execution
What Was Alabama Prisoner Kenneth Smith Executed For?
In March 1988, a tragic event unfolded in Colbert County, Alabama. Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett, a 45-year-old mother of two and the wife of a pastor, was brutally murdered. Kenneth Eugene Smith, then 22, was one of three men convicted of the crime.
Surprisingly, Charles Sennett Sr., Elizabeth’s husband, orchestrated the conspiracy to cash in on his wife’s insurance policy. He promised Smith and another man $1,000 each for the heinous act. Smith was convicted in 1996.
Despite 11 out of 12 jurors voting for a life sentence, Judge N. Pride Tompkins overruled their decision and sentenced Smith to death. This practice of judicial override was abolished in Alabama in 2017 and is now prohibited across the United States.
Smith, who maintained that the judge’s override was unjust, was executed at the age of 58.
Alabama’s Governor, Kay Ivey, acknowledged the necessity to prevent judges from altering jury decisions. However, Ivey also clarified that this new rule won’t impact past cases, ensuring justice for victims’ families.
Kenneth Smith Execution Explained
Certainly. Kenneth Smith, a 58-year-old man, was executed on January 25, 2024, at Holman Prison in Atmore.
The execution process commenced at 7:53 p.m. Central time, and Smith was declared dead at 8:25 p.m., as reported by John Q. Hamm, the commissioner of the state prison system.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey released a statement expressing, “Kenneth Eugene Smith brutally ended the life of 45-year-old Elizabeth Sennett on March 18, 1988.”
“After over 30 years and numerous attempts to manipulate the system, Mr. Smith has finally been held accountable for his terrible crimes,” the statement further reads.
The execution was conducted lawfully using nitrogen hypoxia, a method Mr. Smith had previously requested as an alternative to lethal injection.
Governor Ivey added, “Finally, this case can be put to rest. I hope that Elizabeth Sennett’s family can find closure after all these years of dealing with this immense loss.”
Despite objections from the Supreme Court’s three liberal justices and concerns from death penalty opponents about the untested method possibly causing suffering, the execution proceeded.
According to The Washington Post, Smith, strapped to a gurney with a mask on his head, appeared conscious for several minutes after the nitrogen gas started flowing into the mask, depriving him of oxygen.
Witnesses reported that he “shook and writhed” for at least two minutes before his breathing became heavy for several minutes.
Eventually, his breathing slowed until it was no longer noticeable.