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Alabama Could Be First State to Execute Prisoner With Nitrogen

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Alabama could possibly become the first state to execute a prisoner through the use of nitrogen gas.

Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a request on Friday with the Supreme Court to be allowed to use nitrogen hypoxia for the execution of Kenneth Smith. Smith was set to be executed in November 2022, but survived after his veins couldn’t be found for the lethal injection, according to Al.com.

“It is a travesty that Kenneth Smith has been able to avoid his death sentence for nearly 35 years after being convicted of the heinous murder-for-hire slaying of an innocent woman, Elizabeth Sennett,” AG Marshall said in his statement.

In March 1988, Charles Sennett, the pastor of Westside Church of Christ in Sheffield, Alabama had been seeking a hitman to kill his wife after he had amassed a great deal of debt and taken out an insurance policy on her, according to Marshall’s statement.

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Sennett hired a man named Billy Williams who then hired Smith and another man, John Parker, to “stage a burglary and kill” Sennett’s wife, according to the “Stop the Execution of Kenneth Smith” page.

“Elizabeth was ambushed, violently punched, beaten and bludgeoned, and stabbed over and over again with the six-inch survival knife that Smith and Parker had brought with them,” Marshall said. “In addition to countless lacerations and abrasions that she sustained to her body, Elizabeth suffered a total of ten stab wounds- eight to her chest and two to her neck-which proved fatal.”

In both 1989 and 1996, Smith was tried for his crimes, and convicted of murder by a jury and sentenced to death both times, according to Marshall.

Currently, Oklahoma and Mississippi have laws allowing for the use of nitrogen hypoxia for those being executed with the death penalty, according to a death penalty website.

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