Alabama inmate Kenneth Smith executed with nitrogen gas, marking the emergence of a wholly new method of capital punishment

Atmore, Alabama CNN — Alabama has put to death Kenneth Smith, the first death row inmate known to die by nitrogen gas, marking the emergence of a wholly new method of execution in the United States. It is the first known execution using nitrogen gas – a method some experts have said is veiled in secrecy and could lead to excessive pain or even torture. The US Supreme Court earlier Thursday denied a last-minute appeal by Smith’s attorneys to halt the execution. Smith, who was sentenced to death for his role in a 1988 murder for hire, survived the state’s initial attempt to execute him by lethal injection in 2022. On Thursday, he accepted a final meal of steak, hashbrowns and eggs, according to information released by the Alabama Department of Corrections. Liberal Justices Elena Kagan, Ketanji Brown Jackson and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have paused the execution. The Supreme Court also declined to halt the execution a day earlier. Little is known about how the set method of execution, known as nitrogen hypoxia , will be carried out because the state’s published protocol bears redactions experts say shield key details from public scrutiny. The state, in court records, indicated the redactions were made to maintain security and it believes death by nitrogen gas to be “perhaps the most humane method of execution ever devised.” Related article Alabama plans the first nitrogen gas execution this week in largely secret process experts say raises concerns about cruelty But Smith and his team were skeptical. “The eyes of the world are on this impending moral apocalypse,” the inmate and his spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeff Hood, said midday Thursday in a joint statement. “Our prayer is that people will not turn their heads. We simply cannot normalize the suffocation of […]

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